Canes want strong sendoff at home

Posted by Chip Alexander on February 7, 2014 

The Canes play two final home games Friday and Saturday -- against Florida and Montreal -- before time off for the Olympic break.

And it will be an even longer break until the Canes' next home game.

The Canes start up again Feb. 25 but don't return to PNC Arena until March 7, when they face the New York Rangers. They play the first five games after the break on the road, beginning with the rescheduled game against Buffalo on Feb. 25 and then moving West.

That's a long time to be away from home. It also amps up the need to give the home fans something good to remember.

"No sugar-coating it. These are two big games, we're at home and there are games in hand we need to take advantage of," Canes coach Kirk Muller said after Friday's morning skate. "We want to finish on a good note. We'd love to pick up some points this weekend.

"For the fans, we want to finish on a good note where everyone's excited when the time comes we're back practicing. It's a mindset not just for our players and coaches, but for our fans to get excited (about) a fun finish."

Anton Khudobin is expected to be in net again Friday against the Panthers, who lost to the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 Thursday night in Sunrise, Fla., then flew to Raleigh.

The Canes' lines on Friday had Eric Staal at center with Jiri Tlusty and Alex Semin; Jordan Staal with Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm, Manny Malhotra centering Nathan Gerbe and Pat Dwyer and Riley Nash at center with Drayson Bowman and Tuomo Ruutu. Radek Dvorak was the extra forward.

The defensive pairs had Justin Faulk with Andrej Sekera, Ron Hainsey with John-Michael Liles and Jay Harrison with Brett Bellemore. Mike Komisarek was the extra defenseman.

The Canes had two days to practice after their 2-1 loss Tuesday to the Winnipeg Jets. They worked on the power play and other areas of their game, and want a strong start against the Panthers.

"You want to catch a team on a back-to-back," Muller said. "We're fresh, we're at home. We should take advantage of that and jump out on an opponent when they play the night before.

"We want to get off to a good start and play it simple. Play hard and have a lot of structure in our game, especially in the first period."

Defenseman Justin Faulk will be headed to Sochi for the Winter Olympics after Saturday's game to play for Team USA but said the business at hand has his full attention.

"They're having the opening ceremonies today, it's an exciting time and I'm looking to getting over there. But we've got to first finish up the job here," Faulk said Friday.

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