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Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Sabres

Muller Wants Canes to be Hungry, Feisty

Friday, 01.06.2012 / 12:33 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
After Tuesday night’s loss to the New York Islanders that saw the Carolina Hurricanes surrender the lead late in the third period and lose in a shootout, head coach Kirk Muller knows there is still work to be done.

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A couple of days of hard-working practices later and an overall loose morning skate today, the Canes will look to correct the errors in their game in search of their 14th win this season.

Muller knows he won’t see a complete turnaround over night. It’s a work-in-progress but one he is happy to accept.

“It all starts in practice. It’s habits of wanting to come every day, putting the work in and committing to the system. With that part, we’ve been happy,” he said. “The results aren’t there yet. On the positive side, I see areas where we’re going in the right direction. I believe in that. We’ve got a great staff, and we’ve got to keep pushing them everyday.”

Tonight, the Canes will see a push-back from a struggling Buffalo Sabres team that has lost five straight games on the road. Their win at home against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday was just their second win in eight games.

But, as the Canes learned the hard way on Tuesday, that’s not to say the Sabres will be an easy opponent. Assuming their top line stays together, Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy and Jason Pominville will be a formidable task for Brandon Sutter’s line. That threesome has combined for 103 points; Pominville is the team’s leading scorer with 40 points (13g, 37a). He also scored Buffalo’s lone goal in their 1-0 win over the Hurricanes on Nov. 18.

Jhonas Enroth has given the Hurricanes fits. In two career games (both wins), he’s stopped 69 of 70 shots, good for a 0.49 goals against average and a .986 save percentage. Head coach Lindy Ruff has said he is going to ride goaltender Ryan Miller as the team tries to climb back into the playoff picture, so the Canes will likely avoid Enroth tonight. Miller is just four wins shy of breaking Dominik Hasek’s club win record of 234.

The Canes, however, have had success against Buffalo this season. On Oct. 14 at the First Niagra Center, Carolina earned a 4-3 win, scoring three of their four goals on special teams. The first goal, eventually given to Alexei Ponikarovsky, was scored just as a Hurricanes’ power play concluded. Over its last three games, the Canes are 3-for-8 on the power play, including a strong 2-for-4 showing in Tampa Bay on Dec. 31.

As expected, the Hurricanes lines remained the same in the skate this morning. (For a full list of the lines, click here.) Recalled yesterday, Brett Sutter centered Anthony Stewart and Andreas Nodl on the fourth line. The defensive pairings remained the same, as well, and Cam Ward is expected to start in net.

Patrick Dwyer skated today and has been cleared for contact. Muller said Dwyer could be back in the lineup as early as tomorrow night in Nashville. Jeff Skinner also skated, but he is still wearing the non-contact jersey.

The challenge for the Hurricanes tonight will be to maintain the compete level that Muller wants to see. They’ve been able to do this with some success at home recently, and now they will want to see the results come more consistently.

 “You’ve got to implement the mental fact that losing is not acceptable,” Muller said. “We’ve had a lot of games where we’ve fallen by one. We’ve had the lead and we’ve given it up. The mentality that it’s all about winning – we’ve got to get hungrier, we’ve got to get feistier, we’ve got to be harder to play against.”

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STANDINGS

[SSS_STANDINGS.METROPOLITAN_DIVISION_LABEL]
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
2 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
3 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
4 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
5 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
6 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
7 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
8 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 79 21 40 -13 61
J. Skinner 71 33 21 -14 54
A. Sekera 74 11 33 4 44
A. Semin 65 22 20 1 42
J. Staal 82 15 25 2 40
J. Faulk 76 5 27 -9 32
N. Gerbe 81 16 15 -6 31
J. Tlusty 68 16 14 2 30
R. Nash 73 10 14 0 24
P. Dwyer 75 8 14 -2 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 19 14 1 .926 2.30
C. Ward 10 12 6 .898 3.06
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