Sports

Canes getting ‘good minutes’ from many in playoff run

Chad LaRose was in the house Wednesday, sounding the warning siren before the third period. Word has it Craig Adams was, too.

Had Kevyn Adams made an appearance at PNC Arena, the band would have been back together for the Carolina Hurricanes. It was the fourth line of Adams, Adams and LaRose that was instrumental in the Canes’ 2006 Stanley Cup run, providing hustle, tenacity and the relentlessness the Canes needed when called upon.

On Wednesday night, in these Stanley Cup playoffs, it was Jordan Martinook, Greg McKegg and Patrick Brown. They took the ice first against the New York Islanders as starters in Game 3, matched up against the line of Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck, and did their part as the Canes took a 5-2 win for a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference second-round series.

“They played good minutes for us,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Thursday. “Obviously (the Isles) have got a very, very talented fourth line that does a lot of heavy minutes for them, and I thought our guys had a good game for us, solid.

“We’ve said all year we’re going to need everybody to contribute in some form or fashion, whether you’re on the scoresheet or winning your shifts or whatever. Last night, that’s basically what happened.”

For Martinook, playing Wednesday was a lot about heart and want-to. The veteran forward is playing hurt, with a nagging lower-body injury that can be very painful and kept him out of the first two games of the Islanders series.

“We talked about Chad LaRose coming back, he reminds me a lot of how ‘Rosey’ was in the sense of how he plays, very similar, energy, and the way he is in the locker room,” Brind’Amour said. “He kind of runs the room. Those guys are very, very important. I don’t people on the outside get it. But when you’re in it, in it every day ...”

McKegg and Brown both were callups from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL -- McKegg playing 41 games in the regular season and solidifying a spot in the lineup as the Canes pushed for the playoffs, and Brown not brought up until April 16 but now getting in seven of the 10 playoff games.

“It’s a special time to be here,” McKegg said.

In Game 3, the line did not allow the Islanders a high-danger scoring chance while generating three, according to Natural Stat Trick, an analytics web site. McKegg won seven of nine faceoffs as the line won 10 of 14 draws. That’s efficiency.

Brind’Amour continued to roll all four lines in the game. No shortening of the bench. McKegg, who had 11:30 of playing time, had a game-high eight shifts in the third period and Martinook and Brown seven shifts each. That’s trust from the head coach.

“You’ve just got to be ready to go,” Brown said. “Whether you get one shift or 10 shifts, you have to be ready to go. Whenever you can roll four lines it’s definitely an advantage, giving your top guys some more rest and puts some valuable hard minutes on their (defensemen). Be focused and stay engaged.”

Brown was engaged enough to make five of Carolina’s 25 hits, a game-high for both teams.

“That’s my job, to try and finish,” Brown said. “They (coaches) don’t have to say it. That’s my game. I try to finish all my checks, get on their D and make sure we play in their end, and a lot of that is forechecking.”

A strong forechecking shift by the McKegg line in the first period helped set up the Canes’ first goal. Brown had a scoring chance off a McKegg pass but had the puck go off the side of net. The line kept at it, setting the tone, drawing a big cheer from Canes fans as they made their line change.

Moments later, it was 1-0, Canes, as Teuvo Teravainen scored the first of his two goals on a tap-in.

McKegg had a near-miss in Game 1, breaking in against goalie Robin Lehner but not getting enough lift on his backhander to get the puck over Lehner’s outstretched pad. But the Canes won 1-0 in overtime and the next two as well, with Game 4 set Friday at PNC Arena.

“Everybody on this team is playing at such a high level right now,” Martinook said. “That’s what you need in the playoffs. I’m super proud of these guys and we want to keep it going.”

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In more than 30 years at The N&O, Chip Alexander has covered the N.C. State, UNC, Duke and East Carolina beats, and now is in his 11th season on the Carolina Hurricanes beat. Alexander, who has won numerous writing awards at the state and national level, covered the Hurricanes’ move to North Carolina in 1997 and was a part of The N&O’s coverage of the Canes’ 2006 Stanley Cup run.
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