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Blues vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Canes Aim to Start How They Finished

Thursday, 03.10.2011 / 12:51 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes Aim to Start How They Finished
Mostly pleased with how his team finished its 3-2 overtime loss to Atlanta on Wednesday, Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice will retain the adjustments that helped them get to that point.

After a slow start that saw the Canes trail 2-0 and not get enough pucks or traffic to opposing goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, Maurice made a change in his top two scoring lines heading into the third period. The switch of right wingers Erik Cole and Tuomo Ruutu separated Cole and Eric Staal for the first time in months.

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“I just didn’t think that the puck was following them or that they were in sync with the puck, and when we made the switch the lines were good,” said Maurice of the mindset behind the change.

The new groupings weren’t directly responsible for the tying goal – in a strange twist, it was two recently-separated players in Cory Stillman and Cole who hooked up for the equalizer as their line changes overlapped – but Maurice said that he liked what he saw enough to start Friday’s game in Washington the way he finished against Atlanta.

“Staal’s line got a little more offensive zone time and it puts a different threat on another line that they have to be careful with,” he said. “I like the way we finished with that, so we’ll probably start there.”

Although disappointed to lose in overtime and gain just the single point in the standings, Maurice said that he had no regrets over how the final play developed. In the four-on-four situation, Finnish Hurricanes Jussi Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu and Joni Pitkanen broke into the offensive zone together, leaving Jay Harrison alone to face the two-on-one counter attack by Atlanta after Pavelec stopped Jokinen’s would-be winner.

“Juice is a 30-goal guy and we want him taking the shot and we want to take our chances off those,” said Maurice. “You can hold your third guy back a little bit and sit back, but if the puck comes back to him and it’s on his stick and in the net, it’s the right thing. I think in overtime you go as aggressive as you can.”

It’s been an uncharacteristically long time sine the Hurricanes have faced Washington, a Southeast Division rival, with the last meeting coming on Dec. 26. The Capitals won that match-up, as they have all four meetings in the season series, though the last three match-ups have been one goal games. One of those, the Nov. 28 contest in D.C., was decided in a shootout.

While the last meeting came when the Capitals were just recovering from one of their most sluggish stretches of the year, one that was chronicled in HBO’s “24/7” documentary, they’ve now won six straight games, including Wednesday’s 5-0 triumph over Edmonton, heading into Friday’s match-up.

“They’ve had a real interesting year,” said Maurice. “They look like they’ve bought in to playing a hard, defensive game. They’re playing well and they’re playing tough. They’ve got clearly the offensive guns that we always talk about, but I think their defensive game has really improved.”

Following that game, the Canes return home to face Columbus for the second half of back-to-back games. The Blue Jackets host Los Angeles on Friday, meaning that neither team will have a rest advantage.

“It’s all fair,” said Maurice.

As Thursday was the lone off day in the current three-games-in-four-days stretch, Maurice opted to hold an optional skate at the RBC Center featuring just five players.


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NYI 47 32 14 1 155 130 65
2 DET 48 28 11 9 144 123 65
3 TBL 49 30 15 4 158 131 64
4 MTL 46 30 13 3 126 108 63
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 NYR 45 27 14 4 135 110 58
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 45 20 15 10 111 127 50
10 TOR 49 22 23 4 143 152 48
11 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
12 PHI 49 20 22 7 134 149 47
13 CBJ 46 21 22 3 117 145 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 48 14 31 3 90 171 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 42 16 14 -6 30
J. Faulk 47 9 19 -13 28
E. Lindholm 47 9 11 -11 20
J. Tlusty 40 12 7 -11 19
J. Skinner 42 10 9 -7 19
R. Nash 47 7 12 -4 19
N. Gerbe 43 5 13 -3 18
V. Rask 47 6 9 -10 15
A. Sekera 45 1 14 -6 15
C. Terry 34 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 6 8 2 .918 2.30
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45