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No news on Hurricanes' Ruutu, Cole

Tuesday, 05.19.2009 / 12:35 PM / Conference Finals: Pittsburgh vs. Carolina

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH - Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice offered no immediate update on the status of forwards Tuomo Ruutu and Erik Cole during Tuesday's media availability.

"There's no update and I haven't seen them today (as of 11:30 a.m.)," Maurice said. "My medical opinion wouldn't mean much anyway."

Ruutu left Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins midway through the first period with an apparent lower-body injury after getting tangled in front of the net with Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton. The injury occurred shortly after Ruutu, Eric Staal, Joe Corvo and Joni Pitkanen had solid scoring opportunities stopped by Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in a span of 1:25 while on the power play.

Cole also suffered a lower-body injury with 12:08 left in the third when he was involved in a knee-on-knee collision with Pens forward Matt Cooke. Cole did return for one more shift with under nine minutes remaining, but wasn't a factor and remained sidelined for the final eight minutes of the game. Cole and Ruutu rank 1-2 on the team in hits this playoff season with 58 and 53, respectively.

"When injuries happen like that in the course of a game, you really don't have time to think about it," goalie Cam Ward said. "For me, I'm not on the bench and don't really see what happens and am not really clear on how severe it is, but you just have to be able to move on and I know it's an opportunity for other players to fill those roles and really rise to the occasion. So if that's the case, we have guys who can step in to do the job and do it well."

Carolina Hurricanes Playoff GearThe injuries left Maurice little choice but to increase minutes for several of his forwards, including center Eric Staal, who led all forwards with 22:42 of ice time in Game 1. That's well above his average of 21:16 in the playoffs. Maurice admitted that if both Cole and Ruutu were unavailable for Thursday's Game 2, his lineup would be more dependent on the type of players he needed in certain situations, be it offensive or defensive-minded players up front.

"Both would be key losses but, at this stage, I don't know much about their status," Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason said. "They're two important pieces, they're physical, especially up front and if we have to go a game or two without them, we'll have to find a way to step up and we have guys to fill those positions."

Contact Mike Morreale at mmorreale@nhl.com
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