The message following a 3-2 overtime loss on opening night to Detroit was that the effort was present despite the result.
Two days later, the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1, seeing tangible results from a similar effort.
Likewise, the Canes were rather pleased with their overall game in New York on Saturday night, as the team put forth arguably its strongest first period of the season but couldn’t find a way to grab a lead. The effort was present despite the result.
Tonight, the Hurricanes again face the Flyers.
“Our situation … is just really focusing on ourselves. I thought we had a really strong game in New York,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “Looking at the last game and the way we came out, shows me that the guys are working and focused and that they care.”
“We just want to come out tonight and play the game right. We all know the system and what we have to do. We just have to come out, play hard and work hard,” forward Jiri Tlusty said. “Everything else will fall into place.”
Since that Oct. 6 meeting in Raleigh between these two teams, the Canes have yet to win another home game, though they did collect points in two others. They’re also looking to snap a five-game losing streak.
“Something has to break, whether it’s offensive opportunities or … a goal here or taking the lead for the first time, anything like that will happen if we focus on the details of the game,” Muller said.
The Flyers, meanwhile, have dropped two of their last three games, the most memorable of which is their 7-0 loss to Washington that featured an ugly line brawl in the third period.
“It’s easy to get frustrated and lose your discipline,” Muller said. “But I don’t think there’s a frustration part on our guys that way. I think they’re just trying to stay focused on doing all the little things in the game. I think they believe that it’s a good hockey team. We showed that at the end of camp and the beginning of the season.”
In the first meeting between these two teams, Radek Dvorak netted what proved to be the game-winner, as he roofed a fortuitous bounce created by Jeff Skinner’s aggressive forecheck. Dvorak will reenter the lineup tonight on the fourth line after missing three games with an upper-body injury.
Tlusty has been reunited on the first line with Eric Staal and Alexander Semin, after Muller and the coaching staff experimented with Jordan Staal centering his brother and Semin for a game. Offensive contribution, especially considering the team has managed just five goals in its last five games, from this trio would be ideal, but Muller said the Canes can’t lean on three guys to carry the load.
“I don’t think we want to say if Eric’s line doesn’t score tonight, we don’t win. I think we have to go back to being consistent in terms of our lines,” he said. “We’re going to get through this with 20 guys.”
“One bounce will break the ice,” Tlusty said. “Things can change really fast, so we just have to come out and lead the way in the right direction.”
Ultimately, the Canes want to see tangible results from their effort, just as they did a month ago against the same team, and a collective effort could produce some unlikely heroes.
“Maybe it’s Ruutu that’s the hero tonight. Maybe it’s Patty Dwyer. Maybe it’s Hainsey,” Muller said. “They’ve got to come out of this together.”