Canes’ Malhotra wins game, but his line stars, too

calexander@newsobserver.comNovember 6, 2013 

— Much attention was given, and rightfully so, to Manny Malhotra of the Carolina Hurricanes after his overtime goal Tuesday beat the Philadelphia Flyers.

If there’s a better story in the NHL right now, it’s hard to find.

But Malhotra, who said he received congratulatory texts and calls for hours after the game, was just as proud of the work done by his line in the game. So was Canes coach Kirk Muller.

Muller said he intended to roll four lines, and the line of Malhotra at center with Drayson Bowman and Radek Dvorak on the wings kept getting the call. They also kept producing as the Canes ended a five-game losing streak with a 2-1 win at PNC Arena.

“We said we needed everybody to get us out of this situation we’re in,” Muller said Wednesday. “Everyone participated and I think everybody felt like they helped out in the win.”

This wasn’t a case where a fourth line put in their seven or eight shifts and played six or seven minutes. Bowman had 18 shifts and almost 11 and a half minutes. Dvorak, back in the lineup after missing three games with a lower-body injury, had almost 15 minutes of ice time and Malhotra about 16 minutes as the two also were used to kill penalties.

“It’s really nice having a fourth line like that,” Muller said. “A kid like Bowman is really going to learn a lot by playing with two veteran guys like that.

“What it brings is stability to our lineup. After any instability (during the game) or if the tide changes, now I feel like I have a line I can just throw out there and stabilize things again. They’re going to be consistent and solid.”

Dvorak, 36, and Malhotra, 33, have combined to play more than 2,000 NHL games. Bowman, 24, has played 121.

Dvorak and Malhotra once were linemates for the New York Rangers. The two were in the Rangers’ lineup, in fact, when Malhotra scored his only other NHL overtime goal – April 5, 2001 against Tampa Bay.

Muller said the other member of that New York line at times was Mark Messier, a Hockey Hall of Famer. On Tuesday, it was Bowman.

“They were great last night,” Bowman said. “A lot of talk on the bench and a lot of talk on the ice, which makes it easy for the line to play together and kind of play a simple game.

“I had a lot of fun. Their passion for the game is unbelievable.”

It was Malhotra’s third game for the Canes since signing a one-year contract last week. He had three hits, won 14 of 22 face-offs, blocked four shots and was plus-2 for the game.

And he had the winner. After his hit on Flyers defenseman Mark Streit in the neutral zone forced a turnover, Malhotra took a pass from Ron Hainsey and took off on a breakaway. He threw a backhander at Steve Mason that the goaltender could not handle.

Of his line’s play, Malhotra said, “We had some minutes against (Claude) Giroux’s line. There were a couple of shifts that we were hemmed in our zone but we didn’t really panic. We kept them to the outside.

“On the other side of things we had some really good shifts with some (offensive) zone time. We got a couple of looks at the net wearing down the defensemen.”

Malhotra said it was nice having a “familiar face” in Dvorak on the line, making communication easier. And Bowman, he said, is a player who both has speed and knows how to use it.

“We want to put pucks in position where we can forecheck properly,” Malhotra said. “He can get to loose pucks and he has a nose for finding the space where we can find him.”

While the game had some blemishes and the Canes continue to struggle to score, Dvorak liked the way the victory was achieved.

“We have four good lines that can go out and do some damage,” he said. “Every line can play good, defensively and offensively and positionally. That’s a good thing, when your coach can play all four lines and get everybody involved.”

Note: The Canes on Wednesday assigned rookie forward Elias Lindholm to the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL and recalled forward Chris Terry from the Checkers.

Lindholm, the team’s first-round draft pick this year, has played 10 games for the Canes and has one goal and one assist. Terry, 24, leads the Checkers with six goals and has 10 points in 10 games this season.

Alexander: 919-829-8945 Twitter: @ice_chip

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