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Wild 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 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
3 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
11 OTT 61 27 23 11 173 166 65
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61