All good things must come to end. That was certainly the case last night when the Buffalo Sabres halted the Canes’ lengthy overall and home winning streaks.
In a few ways, last night’s game was eerily similar to a few things that happened the last time the team was putting up streaks like that in 2005-06. The team’s first nine-game run that year ended with a surprisingly lopsided home loss to the eventual 10th seed, the Atlanta Thrashers. In the team’s final home game that year, they lost by four to, wait for it, the Buffalo Sabres.
Things turned out OK that season, and the Canes are optimistic they will again this time around.
“I don’t think we spend too much time enjoying the wins, and we’re not going to spend a whole lot of time sweating that one,” said Coach Paul Maurice.
Easing the sting of the Buffalo loss is the fact that Philadelphia also came away from their game pointless, meaning that home ice is still a possibility. The Canes would most likely need to win at New Jersey tomorrow night to that keep that chance alive, although they would still require help to get to fourth place.
Is that weighing on the team’s mind prior to the match-up, the team’s final game before the postseason gets underway?
“It’s a possibility, and I think it goes a long way in the playoffs,” said Sergei Samsonov. “It’s something we can definitely work for.”
Besides that reason for winning, it also couldn’t hurt to carry some good feelings over to the postseason. However, even if they lose, they will have won nine of 11 games and won’t be feeling too terrible about the final two contests.
“Regardless of the score in the game tomorrow night, we’ll expand our record back and say ‘how much momentum do you think we need,’” said Maurice. “Both teams are going to come out tomorrow and play hard, they’re going to compete and work on games in their own system.”
Depending on what happens over the weekend, tomorrow’s game could actually be a preview of the first round, as the Canes and Devils would match-up in a 3/6 scenario. Carolina has won all three meetings this season.
“At the end of the season, regardless of who we meet they’re going to bring up the season series,” said Maurice. “The games that we played against Jersey regardless of the score are always tight and always close games. That wouldn’t change.”
Matt Cullen, who Maurice earlier said may play in Jersey, again did not practice today but has been skating on his own. Maurice said he will not play tomorrow.
Michael Leighton, who relieved Cam Ward halfway through last night’s game, gets the start in goal.