RALEIGH, N.C. – Carolina Hurricanes
coach Paul Maurice
said all kinds of different impulses went into his decision to put center Jussi Jokinen
with left wing Sergei Samsonov
and Tuomo Ruutu
on the right side – a line that paid huge dividends in his team's 3-2 overtime win over Boston in Game 3.
First, there was the impulse to get Jokinen off the fourth line. There was the thought that European players, especially countrymen – Finns like Jokinen and Ruutu -- can have a unique chemistry.
And then there was simply the impulse to juggle.
"I studied it for days," Maurice said wryly.
In the end, the trio scored two goals, including Jokinen adding his second game-winner of the playoffs, and produced a total of five points. Most recently, Maurice put the trio together for Game 2, although they had played together in the past.
"I played with both Jussi and Tuomo for a period of time throughout the season so it was pretty easy to find chemistry with them," Samsonov said. "I thought we played well. We didn't make too many mistakes. We tried to make it simple. It's been working for us."
Said Jokinen, whose role is to go hard at the net: "We have a pretty good mix on our line right now."
That chemistry first showed on that line in concrete form at the end of the second period, as the Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead. Jokinen started a 3-on-2 about a minute after Carolina had tied the game at 1 and fed the puck up ice to Scott Walker
, who was on the right side instead of Ruutu as the line was in the midst of a change. Samsonov took Walker's cross-ice pass and snapped off a quick shot past Boston goalie Tim Thomas
In the overtime, Samsonov again was a catalyst.
"I think you're trying to create time and space," he said of his thinking.
Jokinen, stationed in front of the net, picked up the rebound on Samsonov's shot from the right side, spun off his defender and quickly put it in – his fifth goal in seven playoff games after only 7 in 71 regular season games.
Maurice said Jokinen is a "very, very smart hockey player." He said Jokinen takes tape home and studies it and quickly grasps new concepts from the coaching staff.
It doesn’t hurt either when his new home – he arrived the first week of February from Tampa Bay on waivers -- feels more like home.
"Having Ruutu and [defenseman Joni] Pitkanen here makes a big difference," Maurice said. "It's a built-in support group."