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Lightning vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Win One for the Fans

Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 12:48 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Win One for the Fans
Tonight’s game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens doesn’t carry any weight in terms of playoff implications.

Michael Smith
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But there remains something to play for: the fans.

Not only would the team like to close out the season strong tonight and Saturday in Florida, but they would also like to reward the fans with a strong effort, especially after Saturday’s 5-0 loss to New Jersey. Head coach Kirk Muller said that game was disappointing, even more so because it was in front of the home fans.

A strong effort in a 2-1 win in Ottawa on Tuesday has team spirits on the rebound heading into tonight’s match-up and a third of the way to Muller’s goal for the end of the season: three wins in a row.

“We want to go right to the end,” Muller said. “I said to the guys that it was a much better feeling after the Ottawa game the way they played. They were focused, played hard and got better results.

“It’s the last game at home. We want to finish the proper way and play well in front of our fans.”

In addition to winning for the fans, a couple of notable personal milestones are also on the table.

Cam Ward will start in net and go for his 30th win this season. In each of the four seasons that Ward has been the healthy starting goaltender, he’s eclipsed 30 wins. In three games against Montreal this season, Ward has a 1-1-1 record with a 3.25 goals against average and a .903 save percentage.

Another personal milestone on the line tonight belongs to Eric Staal, who can reach the 25-goal and/or 70-point plateau. Staal is one of just eight National Hockey League players to record at least 25 goals in each of the six seasons since in the lockout. (Dany Heatley, Jerome Iginla, Ilya Kovalchuk, Rick Nash, Alex Ovechkin, Martin St. Louis and Thomas Vanek are the other seven.) Staal has also reached 70 points in those six seasons and is a point shy of that mark coming into tonight.

Barring a freak injury between now and puck drop, tonight will mark Bryan Allen’s 600th game in the NHL and 100th with the Hurricanes. Finally, Tuomo Ruutu is a point shy of 300 career points. His game-winning goal Tuesday in Ottawa ended a 14-game goal drought dating back to two games before he was injured in Montreal on Feb. 13.

Opposite the Canes will be 34-goal-scorer Erik Cole and the Canadiens, who are ranked last place in the Eastern Conference. Winless in the four games prior, the Habs defeated the Lightning 5-2 on Wednesday night. Cole scored two goals, padding his career-high goal mark.

The Habs will be without the services of goaltender Carey Price, who was diagnosed with a “mild” concussion. Peter Budaj faced just 16 shots against Tampa Bay on Wednesday night, making 14 saves in the team’s win.

After playing in the team’s last 12 games, forward Drayson Bowman was reassigned to Charlotte of the American Hockey League on Wednesday. The thought was that Andreas Nodl might be able to play, after being cleared for contact following a concussion he suffered in Winnipeg on March 18. But after talking with Nodl this morning, Muller decided to hold him out of the lineup tonight. Defenseman Jaroslav Spacek will dress against his former team after missing the last eight games. He’s played just 9:40 in the last 11 games.

It’s the home finale in the 2011-12 season, the last chance for the Hurricanes to send the home fans home happy. According to the players and head coach, that in itself is well worth playing for.

“The fans have been great, and I think I’ve mentioned that the last few days, but it’s true,” Muller said. “Once you’re here and part of the organization, you hear it daily. Seeing them consistently, the passion is there, they’re behind the team, they support the team and now it’s our job to continue to put a good product out there that they want to come watch.



SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 41 15 13 -8 28
J. Faulk 46 8 18 -14 26
J. Skinner 41 10 9 -7 19
E. Lindholm 46 9 10 -10 19
R. Nash 46 7 12 -4 19
J. Tlusty 39 11 7 -12 18
N. Gerbe 42 4 13 -2 17
V. Rask 46 6 9 -9 15
A. Sekera 44 1 14 -8 15
C. Terry 33 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 5 8 2 .916 2.32
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45