ECU softball splits at Marshall
Published 5:39 pm Sunday, April 26, 2009
By By JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
RALEIGH — Posted on the wall in the Carolina Hurricanes’ dressing room is a rundown of the teams that remain in the East’s playoff field. By Saturday’s skate that group had dwindled to seven.
One more loss, and Carolina can cross itself off the list, too.
These are desperate times for the Hurricanes. They enter Game 6 of their back-and-forth, best-of-seven series with New Jersey on Sunday night trailing the Devils 3-2 and needing to accomplish something that neither team has yet to do — win two straight — to keep its postseason alive.
The Devils might be one victory away from advancing for the first time since reaching the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2007, but they’re well aware that neither team has been able to maintain control of the NHL’s tightest opening-round series.
The last four games have been decided by one goal, two have gone to overtime and Game 4 was 0.2 of a second away from making it three straight, before Jussi Jokinen beat the buzzer by deflecting in the winning goal with his skate.
Through Friday, no other series has had more than three one-goal games or had multiple contests go to OT.
Coach Brent Sutter said Langenbrunner would be a game-time decision while defenseman Bryce Salvador was expected to miss a second straight game with a lower body injury.
The Hurricanes also have injury concerns with forwards Sergei Samsonov and Matt Cullen being held out of practice. Coach Paul Maurice said the availability of Samsonov, who missed Game 5 with a lower body injury, would be determined on game day, but that Cullen was expected to play and that both players were taking advantage of the extra day off between games.
Carolina certainly could use contributions from both players — and everyone else wearing red — if they’re going to foil Martin Brodeur and avoid losing a series for the first time since the 2002 Stanley Cup finals. Their only postseason appearance between now and then came in 2006, when they won the Cup.
The winningest goaltender in NHL history is coming off his record-tying 23rd career playoff shutout, a 1-0 victory that was dominated by offense — or, more accurately, the offensive chances both teams missed.
The Hurricanes peppered Brodeur with 44 shots while New Jersey put 42 shots on equally sharp Carolina goalie Cam Ward, but the only puck to get past either one of them came on David Clarkson’s second-period deflection.
Brodeur’s brilliance has put the Devils in some welcome, familiar territory.
When New Jersey wins three games in a series, the fourth usually is little more than a formality: They haven’t been eliminated after three victories since the 2001 Cup final against Colorado, when they lost Game 7 after leading 3-2 through five games.
Obviously, the Devils don’t want things to get to that point this time.