The Carolina Hurricanes stayed in the hunt for one of the final spots in the Eastern Conference playoff race, knocking off the Ottawa Senators, 4-3, at the RBC Center Tuesday. Here are five observations from the Canes' win.
1. When Chad LaRose is in a position to succeed, he seems to find a way to do it. While a top-six role is too much for LaRose to handle most nights, he proved again Tuesday that as a third-line player he can contribute in all three zones and step up in a crucial game. LaRose's two goals marked his first multipoint game since Jan. 20 (a 4-1 win over the Rangers) and matched the season-high two goals he scored Nov. 17 against the Senators en route to a four-point night. In the last four games (three wins), he has three goals and four points and has been the unlikely source of veteran offense that has been missing from the lineup. With Eric Staal still struggling and others in the lineup failing to consistently put up points, LaRose was the catalyst for Carolina's first four-goal game in nearly a month.2. Coach Paul Maurice continues to show confidence in all six of his defensemen. While earlier in the season Joni Pitkanen and Joe Corvo were often closer to 30 minutes each than 20, the duo combined for about 46 minutes of ice time Tuesday, and Bryan Allen played the fewest with a solid 16:01. In eight games since joining Carolina, Derek Joslin is a plus-7 and has not been a minus player in any game. He's averaged more than 20 minutes a night the past three games and has seen time on both the penalty kill and power play.
3. Speaking of the power play, the struggles continue. Carolina was shut out in three attempts and looks simply lost with the man advantage. One gets the feeling that if Carolina gets their power play going, they could really get on a run that would propel them to the postseason. The team's five-on-five play and penalty kill continues to be very good, and the extra goal a game an average power play usually provides would go a long way in securing the team's return to the postseason.
4. While different players have stepped up from game to game, the one constant has been the play of Cam Ward. That was certainly true throughout Tuesday's game, especially when Carolina was back on its collective heels in the second period and Ward turned aside all 18 of Ottawa's shots on goal. Tuesday's effort was the 21st time Ward has made at least 35 saves this season, and Carolina has earned at least a point in all but three of those games.
5. Tuomu Ruutu now has 18 goals on the season after notching Carolina's first last night, and 16 of them have come with the Canes trailing by two or less, or tied. While his one game-winning goal isn't all the impressive, he has tied up six games this season and pushed Carolina into the lead five times. He is on pace to match his career high of 54 points set in 2008-09, and is 279 hits are second only to Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck (320).