Hurricanes Locker Room: Failing to follow formula puts Carolina in a hole

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Carolina coach Paul Maurice dismissed precedent before this game.

It turns out it would have been pretty nice for the Hurricanes if they could have repeated the pattern they established earlier in the playoffs.

They failed to follow the formula that had been working, however, and find themselves in a bind, down, 2-0, against the Penguins in the Eastern Conference final.

After dropping Game 1 on the road in each of the first two rounds, against New Jersey and Boston, Carolina bounced back to win Game 2 and, eventually, win the series.

Last night, the same scenario stared at the Hurricanes, who were down a game to the Penguins.

That's when history took a left turn and Carolina fell, 7-4, in Game 2 at Mellon Arena.

"They did what they needed to do -- win two games on home ice," Maurice said of the Penguins. "We need to do the same thing now. That's our challenge."

After trading goals and leads much of the game, the Penguins broke things open in the third period. The teams head into Game 3 tomorrow night in Raleigh, N.C.

"It worked out for us well the last two series, but it's a whole new series, a whole new thing, a whole new game, a whole new team," center Eric Staal said before the game.

He was right, but not in the way he had hoped.

Carolina goes home needing to climb back into the series.

"We've just got to get back to playing our game -- simple, quick and fast -- and I think we'll be all right," said winger Patrick Eaves, who scored Carolina's final goal, the one that tied the score, 4-4, at 2:35 of the third period.

The Penguins then broke it open, thanks in large part to Evgeni Malkin.

While the Penguins got a hat trick plus an assist from Malkin, the scoring champion in the regular season, and a goal and an assist from postseason leading scorer Sidney Crosby, Carolina's goals came from a mix of players -- none named Staal, the regular-season and playoff leading scorer for the club, or top-line winger Ray Whitney.

"We have, I think, a pretty spread-out offense," said winger Scott Walker. "Certain guys get more points on the power play, but we don't look at any particular line. Everybody's contributing. It's nice when everybody can help out. We don't care who does the scoring."

They just need more of it -- and they need to keep the Penguins' big guns a little more quiet.

"One way or another, we have to shut down those guys, and everybody knows who those guys are," said defenseman Tim Gleason, who had a tough night and finished with a plus-minus rating of minus-5.

Defenseman Joe Corvo made what turned out to be a rather cryptic prediction before the game.

"We need to keep it to two or under [goals against] to give ourselves a chance," he said.

The Penguins pummeled Carolina goaltender Cam Ward like no team has this time of year.

He gave up six goals on 41 shots -- Tyler Kennedy had an empty-netter for the Penguins -- the most allowed by Ward in a playoff game. He gave up five in a 5-1 loss May 13, 2006, to New Jersey in Game 4 of the second round -- the only game Carolina lost that round as it rolled on to the Stanley Cup championship with Ward winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who gave Carolina its only lead at 3-2 in the first period, said the blame should spread to others.

"We've got to play tougher on their guys defensively," he said. "We have to play our game.

"We just gave them too many things, too many openings. We had too many breakdowns defensively. We just didn't play tight enough."



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