Hockey Stuff: Canes’ Magic Number is 2

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STAAL, CANES ROLL | Can clinch Southeast tonight

Eric Staal (above, right) scored 42 seconds into the game and had two assists to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a 7-1 rout of the Atlanta Thrashers Friday night, extending the team’s lead over the Washington Capitals to four points with four games remaining in the regular season.

Any combination of two regulation wins by the Hurricanes or regulation losses by Washington (each team has four games remaining, including a match against each other Tuesday in Washington) would give Carolina the division title and automatic third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, which will start around April 10. That could all happen in Florida tonight: the Canes play at Tampa Bay and the Caps will be hosted by the Florida Panthers.

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