With a combined scoring margin of 20-6, the last three games went about as well as they possibly could for the Hurricanes.
While they’ll certainly be hoping for another win tonight on home ice against the New York Rangers, coach Paul Maurice and company don’t expect it to be another blowout like they’ve been enjoying lately. The Rangers are just one point ahead of the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and with each team in the hunt seemingly unable to lose a game of any kind at the moment, head-to-head match-ups like this one leave plenty on the line.
“This is the first of a stretch now where it’s almost as close to playoff hockey as you’re going to get,” said Maurice. “The teams that you’re playing have something to play for and they’re fighting just like you are. We’re not expecting a six-goal second period against this team. It’s going to be a grind.”
Despite Scott Walker returning for the morning skate and Brandon Sutter returning from his conditioning stint in Albany (although he hadn’t yet arrived this morning), Maurice said tonight’s lineup would probably be the same as it was on Saturday against Tampa Bay. That leaves a fourth line of Dwight Helminen, Tim Conboy and Michael Ryan, with Frantisek Kaberle and Ryan Bayda healthy extras.
The team is being very cautious with Walker, who admitted he wasn’t feeling too well after a collision with Calgary’s Robyn Regehr on Friday. While feeling somewhat better now, he conceded that he was still “a little slow.” Walker skated an average of just 4:20 in two games since returning from a concussion.
Going back to Saturday’s game, the list of personal and team records is a long one. Here’s an excerpt from tonight’s game notes, which does a nice job of rounding them up.
The Carolina Hurricanes and its players set or tied several regularly-kept season records, Hurricanes records (since the team’s relocation in 1997) and franchise records in their 9-3 win at Tampa Bay on March 7.
- Carolina’s nine goals marked the most goals for the team since relocation. The Hurricanes had scored eight goals in a game three times prior to that record being bested.
- The nine goals also matched a franchise record for goals scored on the road, accomplished three other times
- The Hurricanes’ six-goal win was their largest margin of victory this season
- Carolina’s six goals in the second period of the game were its most this season, and tied the highest single-period goal output for the team since relocation, matching its six goals in the third period of its game against Florida on Jan. 11, 2007
- The Hurricanes’ 21 shots in the second period tied the season high for shots in a period (Jan. 31 v. ATL, 1st period)
- Eric Staal’s four goals in the game set a Hurricanes record. Carolina players had notched 31 three-goal games since the team’s relocation, but Staal’s four-goal game was the first since the team’s relocation. It tied the franchise record of four goals in a game, previously accomplished by only Jordy Douglas on Feb. 3, 1980, and now Associate Head Coach Ron Francis on Feb. 12, 1984.
- Staal’s four goals marked the first time in franchise history a player has scored four goals in a road game
- Staal’s six points set a Hurricanes record and tied the franchise record, previously accomplished three times – Paul Lawless on 1/4/87 (2g, 4a); Ron Francis on 3/5/87 (6a); Ron Francis on 10/8/89 (3g, 3a)
- Erik Cole’s four assists tied the Hurricanes record, accomplished three other times
- Cole’s three assists in the second period tied the season record and the Hurricanes record, matching Sergei Samsonov’s same accomplishment from earlier this season on 2/7 at Phoenix; Hurricanes players have earned three assists in a period eight times
- Staal’s four points in the second period tied the Hurricanes record set by Ray Whitney in the second period on Feb. 8, 2007