NHL Playoffs: Hiurricanes back home tonight
RALEIGH ó Posted on the wall in the Carolina Hurricanes’ dressing room is a rundown of the teams that remain in the East’s playoff field. By Saturday’s skate that group had dwindled to seven.
One more loss, and Carolina can cross itself off the list, too.
These are desperate times for the Hurricanes. They enter Game 6 of their back-and-forth, best-of-seven series with New Jersey tonight trailing the Devils 3-2 and needing to accomplish something that neither team has yet to do ó win two straight ó to keep its postseason alive.
“After a loss, we come out with more conviction than we have after a win,” forward Erik Cole said Saturday. “It’s at that point now where our backs are against the wall, and we’re going to need great efforts from everybody to overcome this.”
The Devils might be one victory away from advancing , but they’re well aware that neither team has been able to maintain control of the NHL’s tightest opening-round series.
The last four games have been decided by one goal, two have gone to overtime and Game 4 was 0.2 of a second away from making it three straight, before Jussi Jokinen beat the buzzer by deflecting in the winning goal with his skate.
Through Friday, no other series has had more than three one-goal games or had multiple contests go to OT.
“I think there’s always a benefit in ending a series early. But especially with this series, considering how close it has been, it’s far from over,” said New Jersey captain Jamie Langenbrunner, who has missed the past three games with a lower body injury.
“Getting it done shouldn’t be the mind-set to have,” he added. “We just have to be ready to play and come out with our best lineup. It’s been a tight series and a tough series. I just want to be a part of it.”
Coach Brent Sutter said Langenbrunner would be a game-time decision while defenseman Bryce Salvador was expected to miss a second straight game with a lower body injury.
The Hurricanes also have injury concerns with forwards Sergei Samsonov and Matt Cullen being held out of practice. Coach Paul Maurice said the availability of Samsonov, who missed Game 5 with a lower body injury, would be determined on game day, but that Cullen was expected to play and that both players were taking advantage of the extra day off between games.
Carolina certainly could use contributions from both players ó and everyone else wearing red ó if they’re going to foil Martin Brodeur and avoid losing a series for the first time since the 2002 Stanley Cup finals.