Although the Hurricanes’ three-game winning streak was halted last night in Ottawa, the team has found some positives to carry over to tomorrow night’s home game against the Buffalo Sabres.
“We played a road game where we out-shot the home team 40-20,” said General Manager Jim Rutherford. “Those are games that you hope you get a few more breaks around the net, and it ended up that they got more breaks than we did, so we lost the game.
“There’s games that I can sit here the day after and be very disappointed and upset that the effort wasn’t there, but in a game like that where the visiting team puts up 40 shots, they’ve done something.”
Although Carolina did come out of that game with a 43-22 shot advantage, they ultimately trailed 4-2 in the only stat that matters. After falling behind 3-1 after the first period due to some poor team defense, the Canes had plenty of chances to get in the game but couldn’t quite poke home some good chances around Senators goaltender Alex Auld.
“I thought [Ottawa] played as well as I’ve seen them play,” said Coach Paul Maurice. “They skated well and they’ve got some good size back there to clear pucks out in front of the net. I don’t think there were easy shots around their goaltender, and Alex Auld is a big man who blocked a lot.”
Although Cam Ward was pulled from the game after the first period in favor of Michael Leighton, the Hurricanes’ starting netminder actually made several good saves to keep Ottawa off the board before Dany Heatley and Chris Kelly put away wide-open chances. That may have rattled Ward a bit, as he probably would have liked to have been a bit more conservative on Mike Comrie’s goal in the dying seconds of the opening frame.
Although Ward has been somewhat inconsistent recently, Maurice said he has full confidence in his starter going into tomorrow’s game against the Sabres, after which the winner (in regulation) will find itself in playoff position.
“I have such a high expectation of what this man can do and I really think the world of him as a goaltender, but some nights it’s just not going,” said Maurice of pulling Ward in Ottawa. “We’re at 3-1 on nine shots against and that’s not going to help us win a hockey game. Some nights you play very well as a goaltender and it’s deflections and things you can’t control that beat you. Last night, we left him alone with some pretty good players.”
- Practice was limited again today, with only five or six players taking the ice. Among them was Scott Walker, who underwent his most strenuous skate yet but still has not practiced in a full team setting simply because there haven't been any lately.
“He’s had a good week now of feeling strong and feeling good,” said Maurice of Walker.
- Brandon Sutter was officially reassigned during practice, but is already on his way to Albany. He is eligible to play in tonight’s game at Bridgeport.
“It’s too long to sit in the seven minute range and expect to get better,” said Maurice. “He’ll go down there and he’ll get into the 20-minute range, get feeling good, get a lot of reps out there and will be handling the puck a lot more in the offensive zone. When he comes back he’ll be a lot better player for us.”
- One player who was played well in Sutter’s stead is forward Michael Ryan. Ryan was fairly anonymous in his first recall earlier this month, but has been much more effective this time around, earning his first point of the season by assisting on Patrick Eaves’ goal against the Senators.
“I thought he showed some speed and really jumped on some pucks, so we played him a little bit more, and then when his legs feel better he goes faster,” said Maurice. “If a young guy comes in and starts to feel better about himself, you always wonder where that confidence will take him and how far he can go. He’s got big numbers in the American Hockey League. Can we get that out of him here if we can get him to feel comfortable? We played him a little more and he showed some real good speed.”