The Hurricanes fired coach Paul Maurice on Monday, ending the longest current tenure with one NHL team. Maurice, who led Carolina to the Stanley Cup finals in 2002, was in his ninth season as coach of the Hurricanes, including two seasons in Hartford before the team moved to North Carolina in 1997.
“I got to a point that I still felt that this team had a chance this year with 52 games left,” general manager Jim Rutherford said. “I just felt that we needed to get some fresh ideas into our dressing room.”
Assistant coach Randy Ladoceur and goaltending consultant Don Edwards were also let go, while assistant coach Kevin McCarthy and recently retired Carolina forward Jeff Daniels were named assistants.
Laviolette, who received a three-year contract, had 77 wins in two seasons as coach of the New York Islanders, leading them to the playoffs both times. However, he was fired after New York lost in five games to Ottawa in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
Laviolette said he plans to have the Hurricanes, who rank last in the league with 56 goals (1.87 per game), play a “high-tempo game.” Carolina has scored one or fewer goals in six of its last seven games.
“I want to get in on the forecheck, bang bodies, get pucks to the net, people to the net and in turn, generate more offense,” Laviolette said. “Just a change in general and a new look, a fresh voice and fresh idea could very well be enough on its own.”
The Penguins beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Tuesday, earning just their second winning streak of the season after going 0-4-0-1 on their most recent road trip.
Konstantin Koltsov scored the winning goal early in the third period for Pittsburgh, which has not won three in a row this season.
“I said at the end of that trip, I really thought we had done a lot of good things against a lot of good teams and only had one point to show for it,” coach Eddie Olczyk said.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 16): Penguins - 22 points, 5th place, 22 PB, Atlantic Division. Hurricanes - 26 points, 4th place, 10 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Penguins - Rico Fata, 9 goals; Dick Tarnstrom, Aleksey Morozov and Koltsov, 11 assists; Tarnstrom, 18 points; Kelly Buchberger, 61 PIM. Hurricanes - Josef Vasicek, 9 goals; Jeff O’Neill, 14 assists; Erik Cole, 17 points; Jesse Boulerice, 59 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 16): Penguins - Power play: 14.5 percent (22 for 152), 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82 percent (109 for 133), 24th. Hurricanes - Power play: 11.4 percent (16 for 140), 27th. Penalty killing: 84.5 percent (109 for 129), 18th.
SEASON SERIES: Hurricanes, 1-0-1.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 29; Hurricanes, 4-3. At Raleigh, N.C., Radim Vrbata posted his second career three-goal game, scoring twice in the second period and netting the eventual game-winner at 3:40 of the third for the Hurricanes. Caron turned away 34 shots for the Penguins.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Penguins - 2-11-1-2 on the road; Hurricanes - 5-3-5-1 at home.