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Carolina can't beat a path to the penalty box

by John Manasso /
RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes gave the Boston Bruins fewer power-play opportunities in the three games that they won combined than they did in Game 5's 4-0 loss on Sunday.
That's not the Hurricanes' game.

They were the NHL's least penalized team during the regular season at 9.8 penalty minutes per game and only allowed nine power-play chances in Games 2 through 4 of this Eastern Conference semifinal.

In giving 10 power-play chances in one game on Sunday to the Bruins, who prefer to play a more aggressive, physical style, they were giving more chances to a team whose power-play unit ranked fourth in the league during the regular season.

So it was not surprising that much of the talk on the Hurricanes' side on Monday was about how to get back to their game and not to get carried away by what happens after the whistle blows.

"I think we just lost our focus a little bit," goalie Cam Ward said. "We got caught up in their style of game. We were taking a few more penalties than we did in the first few games.

"We got caught up in what was going on after the whistles were blown. We just have to get back to playing the way we did the three previous games and we're still in a good situation. We're in a three-two situation coming into Raleigh and we realize we've got to play better."

The Hurricanes' media availability came before right wing Scott Walker's hearing with the league. Walker received a game misconduct for punching Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward in the face.

So whether the Hurricanes felt lucky to have dodged a bullet in that Walker was fined and not suspended for Game 6 here on Tuesday is unknown. Regardless, Walker is an important second-line contributor for Carolina. He has only one point in the series but was even before going minus-1 in Game 5 and his speed is typical of what has given the Bruins fits on the fore-check.

For two-and-a-half seasons, Carolina coach Paul Maurice, now in his second stint with the team, coached Aaron Ward, an ex-'Cane. Maurice spoke of discipline but also made light of the Walker's felling of Ward.

"I think you'll see both teams come out with a focus on discipline and the task at hand," Maurice said. "There are punches thrown in every game -- maybe not landed quite as well -- but that intensity has been there throughout."

Maurice, who bears a quiet demeanor behind the bench relative to his peers, said both teams will have to react to how the officials call Tuesday's game and believes they will.

"The game's still played between the whistles and neither team can afford to spend that much time in the penalty box in Game 6s and Game 7s of the series," he said. "If it's just good, clean, hard hitting because both teams have lots of emotion, that's the way the game should be played.

"If it spills over to after whistles then the officials are going to have to make a decision as to how tight they want to call the game and what messages they want to send and it will be incumbent on our players, as much as theirs, not to do things after the whistles that hurt their team."
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