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Hurricanes in familiar spot, down 1-0 to Penguins

Thursday, 05.21.2009 / 1:25 PM / Conference Finals: Pittsburgh vs. Carolina

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Bruins/Hurricanes Playoff Gear Hurricanes Gear Penguins Gear PITTSBURGH - The Carolina Hurricanes know there's no secret to rebounding from a Game 1 loss in any playoff series.

The last five times the Hurricanes have spotted their opponent a 1-0 lead in a best-of-7, the club has bounced back to win the series. Only once over that span did the team lose the first two games -- against the Montreal Canadiens in the 2006 Conference Quarterfinals -- before winning four straight to close it out.

This season, the Hurricanes have had great bounce-back games following Game 1 setbacks to the New Jersey Devils in the opening round and the Boston Bruins in the East semifinals. And they'll look to do it again Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS) against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 at Mellon Arena.

"We were trying to find our identity in that Game 1 loss to New Jersey and Cam Ward came up spectacular in Game 2 against Boston," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "I wouldn't say we made adjustments (from Games 1 to 2), but we found smarter and better ways to play the game based on what we saw in the opener. Over the course of 14 games, we've done a pretty good job of learning where we can get better and we got better."

Carolina shutdown center Matt Cullen, who will again have the unenviable task of containing Sidney Crosby's line in Game 2, feels Carolina didn't do a very good job at finishing their chances. Against a high-powered offense that could strike at any moment, Cullen realizes the importance of gaining an edge.

"We created a relatively decent amount of opportunities, but didn't bury them (in Game 1)," Cullen said. "We have another level and we just have to find it and that's the approach we're going to take in Game 2. Maybe we need to play a little more desperate.  Obviously, we'd like to see that desperation every game, but for some reason we haven't gotten it done in Game 1."

"We do have to try and do a better job of capitalizing on our opportunities," Eric Staal said. "We had a lot of chances but (Marc-Andre) Fleury made some good saves (in Game 1). We have to get on our forecheck and get to our game by turning pucks over and, hopefully, we'll do enough to get it done."

The Penguins held a 31-25 advantage in shots in the series opener on Monday en route to a 3-2 victory. In their previous two Game 2 triumphs, the Hurricanes outscored the opposition, 5-1, but were outshot, 70-57. A sign, perhaps, that the club did indeed take advantage of the opportunities they were presented.

"We're just going to try and throw our best effort out there and try to come out with the win because you always want to even a series when you have a chance," Cullen said. "This is a sort of a backs-against-the-wall type of game because we want the split."

Maurice would like to see his team establish more puck control and, in effect, steal possession time away from Crosby and company.

"I want to see us do a better job controlling the puck (in Game 2)," Maurice said. "We must be aware of guys leaving the penalty box. I thought we forced some things we didn't have to force (in Game 1). But we have to still be aggressive. I think as all series go and become more physical, it's just a matter of playing hard. We can't shy away just because we're afraid that a penalty will be called all the time."

The 'Canes were whistled for three interference penalties and a delay of game in the series opener. Carolina forward Scott Walker, who played a little more than 15 minutes and was credited with two hits in Game 1 on a line with Staal, knows now is not the time to panic.
"We have another level and we just have to find it and that's the approach we're going to take in Game 2. Maybe we need to play a little more desperate.  Obviously, we'd like to see that desperation every game, but for some reason we haven't gotten it done in Game 1." -- Matt Cullen
"We're in the conference final and we'll play the same style that got us to this point," Walker said. "Sure, we talk about guys having to step it up (in the absence of some players), but that might mean more ice time or more time on the penalty kill. It doesn't mean that, if you're a banger out there, the coach expects you to get more goals. It all comes down to working hard."

Maurice would like to see his team dictate some of the tempo as it has done several times before in clutch situations.

"Over the course of a game, both teams will dictate tempo and it's your job during those blocks of time when the other team has control and has momentum, to take it away," Maurice said. "In terms of slowing it down, we failed to do that in the first period (of Game 1). When they have the puck, we have to do a better job of taking away their time and space. That said, we do not want to slow down our transition or our offense or how we move the puck. Our strength is based on speed and quickness -- that's how we're successful."

Contact Mike Morreale at

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