There’s no question that the Canes allowed more goals than they would have liked in the first two games of their series with Pittsburgh – 10 in the first two games, to be exact – but they were nonetheless quick to stand up for their goaltender the morning after Game 2.
allowed a season-high six goals in the 7-4 loss, with the final Penguins tally going into an empty net. The last time six pucks got past him was in a 6-1 loss to New Jersey on February 9, 2008.
Although he wasn’t at his sharpest, however, the score doesn’t tell the entire story.
“It’s more about what’s in front of him,” said defenseman Tim Gleason
. “We haven’t had to worry about him all year, and we know that he’s going to be there every single night.”
“He’s our rock, and he’s one of the best goalies in the world,” said Eric Staal
. “There might be a few he would have liked to have, but there are a few I would have like to go into the net too.”
At a team meeting held around noon Friday in lieu of practice, the focus will instead be on trying to get better defensively and limit the Penguins’ offensive chances. It’s a tall order against world-class players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but the Canes still know they can do more.
“It’s not effort – we’re talking about two of the best three players in the world,” said Ray Whitney. “The opportunities they got were all avoidable, and there were mistakes by two or three different players.”
“We gave up golden opportunities to superstar players,” said Chad LaRose
No matter what, those players will get their chances. As last night showed, they are too good not to. Although Ward has come through with huge saves to bail the team out in the past when they couldn’t have expected him to and should continue to do so, they know they’ll have to give him some help if they are to continue much further in this series.
“Standing on his head – that’s asking too much,” said Rod Brind’Amour. “Every once in a while we need big saves, but we can’t ask that every night.”
On the injury front, Coach Paul Maurice said that he was pleased with Erik Cole’s performance last night, during which he played through the pain caused by his collision with Matt Cooke in Game 1. He’s expected to suit up as normal tomorrow.
The other casualty from the series opener, Tuomo Ruutu
, will take the morning skate tomorrow, during which a further evaluation will be made on his lower body injury. Expect him to be a game-time decision once again on Saturday night.