It’s a big week for the Carolina Hurricanes, meaning they will want to start playing their best hockey soon.
After a rough beginning to the resumption of their schedule after the All-Star break, the Hurricanes take on the host Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.
“We’ve got to get going again,” Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal said. “This time of the year it only gets tighter and tighter.”
The Hurricanes returned after more than a week-long layoff and lost Saturday night’s home game to the New York Rangers 6-2.
“Stuff that we can’t be doing,” Staal said. “I didn’t love our commitment to how we play and I’d like to see that come out the next game.”
The Hurricanes were on a seven-game winning streak prior to the All-Star break, so there was no reason for alarm after the shortcomings against the Rangers.
“I’m sure we’re going to learn from this one,” Hurricanes forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi said.
The Hurricanes are encouraged to have defenseman Jaccob Slavin back after he missed the last two weeks before the break with an injury. He was solid in his first game back against the Rangers.
The Capitals and Hurricanes will have a rematch Saturday night when they compete in an NHL Stadium Series game at North Carolina State’s Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C.
Before that high-profile event, both teams are trying to build momentum as the pecking order for the playoffs starts taking shape.
“There is big games coming up,” Washington forward Evgeny Kuznetsov said. “I hope this type of game will help us to be better. We’re going to learn from that and next game I’m sure we’re going to come out hot and be much better.”
The Capitals are trying to get back in a groove as well. The inconsistent play has already cropped up following a layoff.
The Capitals split two weekend games in their first action since the break, winning at Boston and falling at home to San Jose to begin a three-game homestand.
“The successful game is fast and north (and south), not east and west and slow,” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said. “It’s pucks and people to the net, and that’s when we’re at our best. … So we’ve got to get to a quicker pace, a quicker mindset, a delivery mindset. Get it out, get it through, get it in, attack, forecheck, pound the net.”
Carolina beat the Capitals 3-2 in a shootout on Halloween in the only previous meeting this season.
Tuesday night’s game is part of the Hurricanes’ annual fathers and mentors trip, so the traveling contingent is rather large for the team.
With all that’s going on this week, coach Rod Brind’Amour doesn’t consider any of them negative distractions.
“I think it’s good. Anytime you can celebrate the boys, their families, that’s a big deal,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s always nice to break up the Groundhog Day of the NHL to have these kinds of things on the schedule.”
The Hurricanes hold a 17-4-6 road record, with points in five straight (4-0-1) away from home. After going to Washington, they won’t play another road game until March 1.
–Field Level Media