Canes keep looking for ways to improve power play

calexander@newsobserver.comNovember 22, 2013 


The Canes Elias Lindholm (16) gets checked by the Flyers Maxime Talbot (25) during the third period of an NHL game played between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Philadelphia Flyers at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. on Oct. 6, 2013. Lindholm left the game after the hit, but came back to the bench. The Canes beat the Flyers 2-1 for the team's first victory of the season.


— Rookie forward Elias Lindholm hopped a 6 a.m. flight out of Charlotte on Friday to join the Carolina Hurricanes in Detroit.

Lindholm made it in time for practice. The Swede, who was just recalled from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL, soon found himself on the Canes’ top power-play unit with Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner and defensemen Justin Faulk and Andrej Sekera.

“Hopefully I can help the team in the right way,” Lindholm said.

The Canes need it, especially on the power play. It continues to be a sore spot, ineffective and hardly a threat. It was a focus of the practice at Joe Louis Arena.

Canes coach Kirk Muller looked at a different combination of players. He added a few new wrinkles.

The Hurricanes (8-10-4) had four power plays Thursday in a 4-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings and were scoreless on all four. With the score tied 2-2 late in the second period, they had 96 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage but couldn’t convert, getting one shot on goal from Skinner.

That’s two straight games where a two-man advantage went for naught. The Canes had a 63-second 5-on-3 Monday against the Boston Bruins at PNC Arena but also had one shot.

Adding to the Canes’ plight Thursday was that the Red Wings scored on a 5-on-3 in the third period to take the lead. It came on a fluky bounce, the puck glancing off the skate of Canes center Jordan Staal, but it counted and it stung.

“It’s a matter of gaining confidence and executing,” Eric Staal said Friday. “Clearly it’s costing us games here. A 2-2 game, you get a 5-on-3, you have to capitalize or at least get some opportunities. Make the goalie make some big saves and get some second opportunities, and we didn’t even do that.”

Carolina now has scored one power-play goal in 25 opportunities in the past eight games. It came from Eric Staal last Friday against the Anaheim Ducks and helped the Canes secure a 3-2 shootout win.

During the 5-on-3 against the Wings, an early pass from forward Chris Terry near the blue line was batted down and stolen by the Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk. But it wasn’t just a great player making a good play to disrupt things, Eric Staal said.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “The first faceoff it’s a tie-up and the puck’s there and we’ve got to win that battle. We’ve got to get the puck back right off the bat and we don’t.

“We were too nonchalant with some of the passes 5 on 3. It resulted in not getting enough chances.”

In Friday’s drills, Muller had Eric Staal positioned in front of the crease and Lindholm is the slot. Skinner was on the half-wall and Faulk and Sekera at the points.

A second unit had Jordan Staal in front, Tuomo Ruutu in the slot, Nathan Gerbe on the half-wall and defensemen Ron Hainsey and Ryan Murphy at the points.

Those are the combinations Muller likely will use Saturday against the Boston Bruins (14-6-2) at TD Garden. Terry was reassigned Friday to the Checkers.

Skinner returned to the lineup Thursday after missing 11 games with an upper-body injury. On a first-period power play, he had an open net and a good look from a tight angle but fired the puck into the side of the cage.

“Sometimes when it’s not going and not clicking (on power plays), you try to at least get some momentum off it,” Skinner said. “I thought we got some good looks and got some momentum off of it. Five on five I thought we were pretty good.”

Alexander: 919-829-8945 Twitter: @ice_chip

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