NHL: Hurricanes start series in familiar fashion
RALEIGH ó This looks familiar to Carolina: The Hurricanes bouncing back from a lopsided Game 1 loss to wrest home-ice advantage from a higher-seeded opponent in Game 2.
This time, they’d like to keep it.
The Hurricanes gave back a home-ice edge in their last series before rallying to advance. Now they’re hoping to do a better job of protecting their arena Wednesday when their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series with Boston shifts to Raleigh for Game 3.
“You have to learn and you have to build your confidence. When you’re a confident team, you’re more resolved,” Carolina coach Paul Maurice said Monday, less than 24 hours after his team evened its series with the Bruins at one game apiece with a 3-0 win.
“When you think you can win, you’ll stay in the fight longer. Having that win to tie the series and get home-ice advantage is real important, but to keep that resolve, to keep the players believing” is even more important.
Both of the Hurricanes’ playoff series started in similar fashion. Carolina began both on the road and wound up losing the openers by identical 4-1 scores.
“You want to get two (in Boston), but we’ll take the split,” center Eric Staal said after Game2. “We’ll go back to our building, and hopefully we’ll come out with the same fire and intensity.”They also hope one undesirable piece of history doesn’t repeat itself. In its last series, Carolina returned home and handed that advantage right back to the Devils with an overtime loss in Game 3.
“Your mood is totally based on the final score, so you come into that Game 3 and you lose that game ó ‘Oh, we weren’t ready for them,’ ” Maurice said. “That’s a pretty good team. That was a third seed. We’re going to have the (No. 1) seed coming in, so we’re going to prepare in a lot of ways the exact same way we always do and hopefully with a little more knowledge on how we’re going to compete in Game 3s.”
The Hurricanes had serious problems taking care of the puck in their opening-game loss, but they were much more careful with it in the second game, even turning one of Boston’s miscues into the second goal during the win ó their first over the Bruins in six meetings during the regular season and playoffs.
The three goals allowed Sunday were the most the Bruins have surrendered in a playoff game this year. Maurice expects that Boston, which allowed the fewest number of goals in the league during the regular season, will revert to its stingy ways when the series resumes.
“They’re the best defensive team in our game,” Maurice said. “Any cracks in that game will appear to them to be unusual. So they’ll be pretty darn tight when they come in here.”
The Hurricanes are 12-5 in playoff games since 2006. If they make their home-ice advantage stand against the Bruins, they’ll reach the Eastern Conference final for the third time since 2002.
“In so far as we get them on the ice, we have a slight advantage. What we do when we get there, the coaches have no control over that,” Maurice said. “It doesn’t matter who you put on the ice, because if they don’t compete, you don’t win. And if your fourth line outcompetes their first line, you’re going to win that shift. So the matchups are important, but over a longer period of time … if your hockey players don’t do what they need to do, none of that matters at all.”
WASHINGTON ó Alex Ovechkin got his first playoff hat trick. Sidney Crosby matched him, but his was too little, too late.
Ovechkin broke open a tie game with a pair of goals less than three minutes apart in the third period Monday, leading the Washington Capitals to a 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh and a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
NEW YORK ó Markus Naslund wrapped up a 15-year career when he retired after just one season with the New York Rangers.
Naslund, who left the Vancouver Canucks last summer as a free agent, had 24 goals and 46 points in 82 games this season.
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