RALEIGH, N.C. --
"There are some things we can do better. Some things we can keep doing. We just have to go through the whole game. But at the end, you can watch video as much as you want but you have to have the will to win these games."
-- Carolina forward Tuomo Ruutu
The same players who were some of the heroes in helping the Carolina Hurricanes
earn a 3-1 series lead over the Boston Bruins
in this Eastern Conference semifinal turned out to be some of the culprits in their Game 6 loss.
Coach Paul Maurice
didn't call them that after Tuesday night's 4-2 loss. He didn't even mention any names -- but the numbers speak for themselves.
Center Jussi Jokinen
and right wing Tuomo Ruutu
both finished minus-3. Sergei Samsonov
, who had been the third member of their line, was minus-2 until he scored an even-strength goal at 7:20 of the third period to make it 4-2. By then, Samsonov was playing on a different line -- Maurice had broken up the trio that combined for five points in Game 3's 3-2 overtime win and had been perhaps Carolina's best unit in the first four games of the series.
Asked if the Hurricanes' defensemen were at fault for the two early goals -- Anton Babchuk
slid into his goalie on the first tally, preventing him from being able to make the save, and Joni Pitkanen
missed a clearing attempt on the second goal -- Maurice said, "it's a group thing.
"We have to do a better job for our defense to let them make the easy plays," Maurice said. "We're not expecting miracles. You can't expect that 60-foot pass on the tape."
In fact, Jokinen and Ruutu were victimized by three different lines. They allowed their first goal of the game, which made it 2-0, against the line of David Krejci
, Michael Ryder
and Byron Bitz
on what Maurice said was a blown defensive coverage. (Chad LaRose
was in Samsonov's place for that goal.)
Boston's top line of Marc Savard
, Milan Lucic
and Phil Kessel
scored against them midway through the second period, and finally the Bruins' third line of Chuck Kobasew
, Patrice Bergeron
and Mark Recchi
victimized them with 1:57 left in the second period.
Samsonov, Jokinen and Ruutu did not appear together as a unit in the third.
"We're probably going to look at the video and see what we're doing," Ruutu said. "There are some things we can do better. Some things we can keep doing. We just have to go through the whole game. But at the end, you can watch video as much as you want but you have to have the will to win these games."
Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason
said for the Hurricanes to win Game 7, the whole team has to do a better job of playing its system.
"I think simple is better," he said. "We have to play to our strengths. Play our system, stick to it."
Both captain Rod Brind'Amour
and leading scorer Eric Staal
talked about how Boston's 2-0 lead just 5:04 into the game was a killer.
"They had their couple of chances and they scored," Brind'Amour said. "You can't give them those good looks. We had some good looks and didn't score. You still can't give up those quality chances, 2-on-1-type things. We've been talking about that all series. You just can't do that, and it came back to get us."