Tracking the Storm

Canes Hope to Capitalize on Playoff Lifeline

Wednesday, 03.30.2011 / 11:29 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes Hope to Capitalize on Playoff Lifeline

As the Canes return home to face the Montreal Canadiens, they do so with renewed hopes in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Paul Branecky
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By way of their 3-2 shootout win in Washington and Buffalo’s regulation loss in Toronto Tuesday, the Hurricanes now trail the Sabres by three points with six games remaining. Should the Canes get another victory tonight, they could potentially close the gap to just one point if Buffalo simultaneously falters against the New York Rangers.

Such a scenario would put Carolina’s destiny back in its own hands, as it would still have to play well down the stretch but would no longer need help from around the league to qualify for the postseason, as a head-to-head win over the Sabres on Sunday could then put the Canes in playoff position.
There’s still some work to be done before that can happen, but the Canes are certainly closer now than they were yesterday.

”I think we’ve played very well here for probably two weeks, and it was good to get that feeling and a win,” said coach Paul Maurice.

The Canes’ first hurdle will be against a Montreal team that emphatically broke a 199-minute, three-game goal drought with two tallies in 11 seconds in an eventual 3-1 win against Atlanta on Tuesday. The fact that both teams will be playing for the second consecutive night should give the Canes some hope that they can improve upon their 6-11-1 record in the second half of back-to-back games.

“We haven’t had a lot of success in our last group of back-to-back nights,” said Maurice. “We felt the game against Tampa (a 3-2 loss on Saturday) was a close game, a fair game and that the energy was even. Montreal played last night, so we feel that at least it’s even.”

Conversely, the Hurricanes have an outstanding 12-3-4 record in the first half of consecutive games. As one may expect, Montreal is also better on the first halves, but their split isn’t quite as drastic (10-5-1 in the first, 6-6-3 in the second).

Tonight’s game matches up two power plays that appear to be heading in different directions. On the heels of a 4-for-75 (5.3 percent) stretch on the man advantage lasting from Feb 10 to March 22, the Canes have scored 4 goals in their last three games, converting at 28.6 percent in that span.

“I think our puck movement is the key right now,” said Maurice, whose team took a 1-0 lead on Jussi Jokinen’s power-play tally, his first goal in 13 games, at Washington. “We’ve moved the puck better at five-on-five, and we’re doing it five-on-four as well.”

Meanwhile, Montreal has scored just twice in its last 34 opportunities, having converted at just 5.9 percent since March 10.

Having just avoided a six-game season sweep at the hands of Washington, the Hurricanes will again try to dodge historical infamy against Montreal. The franchise has not gone winless against the Canadiens since the 1983-84 season, when Hartford went 0-7-1 against its Adams Division opponents.

Maurice said that the Hurricanes will have no lineup changes for tonight’s game, with Troy Bodie and Jay Harrison as the scratches. The Canes did not skate on Tuesday morning.


SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72