PITTSBURGH — The Canes have been in this position before.
"Been there, done that," defenseman Tim Gleason said today.
True enough. The Canes did lose Game 1 to both New Jersey and Boston in their first two playoff series, then bounced back to win both.
"Done it twice. Kind of like a routine of ours," Gleason said.
But the Canes have not had an opening loss like the 3-2 defeat Monday to the Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals. It was a hard-to-take loss, not one that can be explained away to emotional fatigue. And two key players — Erik Cole and Tuomo Ruutu — were injured.
"I thought we played a better game than we did ... the first two Games 1s," Gleason said. "But it's disappointing.
"(Cole and Ruutu) are two big important pieces for us. We need 'em back as soon as we can. ... They're two important pieces — physical, which is a big part of the club, especially up front. If we have to go a game or two without 'em I'm sure we can find a way to step up."
The Canes had their chances early in Game 1. While the Pens scored the first two goals, on a Miroslav Satan breakaway and Evgeni Malkin backhander, the Canes easily could have taken the first lead had it not been for Marc-Andre Fleury's work in goal for Pittsburgh.
"We got off to a good start," goaltender Cam Ward said today. "Before they got that breakaway goal from Satan, I thought we were really controlling the play. We had a step on them and Fleury came up with some timely save, and when a goaltender does that it helps get your team turned around.
"That Satan goal, with him coming out of the penalty box, kind of confused us. We didn't know where he was on the ice at the time. ... Great move. Kind of made me look a little silly. They get that goal and then all of sudden they settle in and they play a much better game after that."
So the Canes again are 0-1. Against the Devils and Bruins, they won Game 2 each time to square the series.
"Obviously we didn't want to be in this situation," Ward said. "I think we did show a lot of positives yesterday. I think we competed, we fought right to the end. It could have gone either way. ...
"To be successful in the playoffs you have to be able to respond. This is a seven-game series and it's very difficult if you're going to get down 2-and-0. You want to be able to try to split the games as best as you can, especially when you lose the first one.
"It's going to be tough. I know they're probably saying the same thing, that they could have been better in some areas. Both teams are saying that."