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Hurricanes have a lot to work on after loss to Devils

by John McGourty
NEWARK -- If you're the New Jersey Devils, you're pretty pleased with Game 1's 4-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday. But if you're the Hurricanes, the best thing you can do is say it's only one game and we can play better than that.

One game means nothing, sometimes two periods mean nothing. In 1992, the Chicago Blackhawks entered the Stanley Cup Final undefeated in 11 games and went up 3-0 in Game 1 against the Penguins. Pittsburgh roared back for a 5-4 victory and swept the series. In 1971, the Boston Bruins won Game 1 in a preliminary series and led the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 in Game 2 before losing, 7-5. The Canadiens went on to win the series and eventually the Stanley Cup.

It's not over until it's over and this isn't over, according to Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice. He thought his team was beaten in every phase of Game 1, losing 4-1, and left the Prudential Center thinking, "that's not my team."

"We had a very difficult time moving the puck through them and because of that our forecheck didn't get established," Maurice said. "When that happens, we were giving the other team counters and breakouts that are easy to make. The fourth goal was a good example: We've got guys laying on the ice and we just couldn't get the puck or move it quick enough to the net. On the upside, we've got a lot of areas to get better at."

The Hurricanes were outhit, 31-27, and Maurice doesn't want to see that again.

"No, clearly there is another level there for our team," Maurice said. "So much of finishing checks and being physical is generating the speed to do it. ... We weren't the faster team tonight and we weren't the quicker team.

"They played very well and they didn't have any elements of their game that they weren't successful at," Maurice said. "We were a little jittery coming out of the gate, but you expect that to wear off and we never seemed to get untracked."

Maurice bit his lip when asked if thought the Devils did a good job analyzing video so that their players were frequently in place to break up Hurricanes' passes.

"At the end of the day, without going into too much detail because we are going to try to correct it, if your forwards and defense are standing that far apart, it's difficult to make crisp passes."

The Hurricanes were trailing 3-0 when Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador took a penalty at the end of the second period to give Carolina its first power play to open the third period. The Hurricanes were as ineffective at five-on-four as they had been at five-on-five.

"To give yourself a chance to get back into the game, that was important. We dumped the puck in three times and they dumped it out three times and that was pretty much it. The other unit had a little more grit, but when you skate as well as they did tonight, I think you're looking at the other team's offense quite a bit."

While Maurice realizes his team has a lot to work on in practices before Friday's Game 2, there was one player who came in for praise.

"We're going to look back at that game and see (goalie Cam Ward) make a lot of really brilliant saves," Maurice said. "I wish he hadn't had to make them."

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