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Keeping home-ice advantage against Bruins will be top priority for Hurricanes

The Canadian Press
By:
The Hockey News
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Keeping home-ice advantage against Bruins will be top priority for Hurricanes

The Canadian Press
By:

RALEIGH, N.C. -- This looks familiar to Carolina: The Hurricanes bouncing back from a lopsided Game 1 loss to wrest home-ice advantage from a higher-seeded opponent in Game 2.

This time, they'd like to keep it.

The Hurricanes gave back a home-ice edge in their last series before rallying to advance to Round 2.

Now they're hoping to do a better job of protecting their arena Wednesday night when their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series with Boston shifts to Raleigh for Game 3.

"You have to learn and you have to build your confidence. When you're a confident team, you're more resolved," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said Monday, less than 24 hours after his team evened its series with the Bruins at one game apiece with a 3-0 win.

"When you think you can win, you'll stay in the fight longer," he added. "Having that win to tie the series and get home-ice advantage is real important, but to keep that resolve, to keep the players believing" is even more important.

Both of the Hurricanes' playoff series started in similar fashion.

Carolina began both on the road and wound up losing the openers by identical 4-1 scores in games that weren't really that close. But in both series the Hurricanes rebounded by beating their favoured hosts in the second game and swinging home-ice advantage in their favour.

"You want to get two here (in Boston), but we'll take the split. We'll go back to our building, and hopefully we'll come out with the same fire and intensity," centre Eric Staal said immediately after Game 2.

They also hope one undesirable piece of history doesn't repeat itself. In its last series, Carolina returned home and handed that advantage right back to the New Jersey Devils with an overtime loss in Game 3.

"Your mood is totally based on the final score, so you come into that Game 3 and you lose that game -- 'Oh, we weren't ready for them,"' Maurice said. "That's a pretty good team. That was a third seed.

"We're going to have the (No. 1) seed coming in, so we're going to prepare in a lot of ways the exact same way we always do, and hopefully with a little more knowledge on how we're going to compete in Game 3s."

The simplest way to do that might be to replicate their Game 2 efforts.

The Hurricanes had serious problems taking care of the puck in their opening-game loss, but they were much more careful with it in the second game, even turning one of Boston's miscues into the second goal during the win -- their first over the Bruins in six meetings during the regular season and playoffs.

Now they're coming home, where they're 12-5 in playoff games since 2006 and were 2-1 during a first round that was never short for drama.

Their loss in Game 3 came in overtime, they didn't decide Game 4 until they scored with 0.2 of a second remaining and their Game 6 win helped them avoid elimination.

And while they're careful not to get too far ahead of themselves -- "They have a full understanding that they're not even halfway there (to the Stanley Cup) yet," Maurice said -- they're aware that if they make their home-ice advantage stand against the Bruins, they'll reach the Eastern Conference final for the third time since 2002.

"In so far as we get them on the ice, we have a slight advantage. What we do when we get there, the coaches have no control over that," Maurice said.

"It doesn't matter who you put on the ice, because if they don't compete, you don't win. And if your fourth line out competes their first line, you're going to win that shift.

"So the matchups are important, but over a longer period of time ... if your hockey players don't do what they need to do, none of that matters at all."

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Keeping home-ice advantage against Bruins will be top priority for Hurricanes