Hurricanes face Oilers, look to pick up their game

NHL Hockey
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The Carolina Hurricanes have been going through a stretch where they have played well enough to stay in the thick of the playoff chase in the Eastern Conference. But they’re waiting to put it into another gear.

“You’ve got to kind of get that swagger back a little bit,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “It starts with getting back to the basics and trusting your game. To me, it’s playing the right way. Goals will come.”

So next comes Sunday’s game against the visiting Edmonton Oilers in Raleigh, N.C.

The Oilers are in a grueling part of the schedule and are simply trying to maintain some sort of stability.

The Hurricanes made what they hope is a crucial statement with Friday night’s 5-2 home victory against the New Jersey Devils.

“That’s a step in the right direction,” Hurricanes right winger Nino Niederreiter said. “We have (24) games left in the season, and we have to do whatever it takes to get there. I think the biggest thing for us is to play simple hockey, and we did that.”

The Hurricanes are playing the back end of consecutive home games. They have only two sets of two-game homestands this month.

“It was a good feeling, and we responded well,” Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce said. “We’re in the final stretch here, and we have to put together a bunch of wins.”

Goalie Petr Mrazek has been inconsistent across the past month. He’s hoping his performance Friday night gets him untracked, though he has been sharing duties with James Reimer in a recent stretch.

“Every game matters from the beginning of the year,” Mrazek said.

Edmonton is coming off Saturday’s 4-1 victory at Florida.

The Oilers, who are wrapping up a three-game road trip with the stop at Carolina, are 4-3-0 this month. Saturday’s game is the first of seven across 12 days for the Oilers.

“We have a crazy amount of games coming up,” defenseman Matt Benning said.

The Oilers have had a wide range of recent results, everything from an eight-goal outburst to being shutout victims in the next game. They’ve learned to move on to the next task and not dwell in the past.

“You got to shake it off and keep playing,” right winger Kailer Yamamoto said. “Leaders in here are really good at emphasizing that.”

The Oilers received a blow with the seven-game suspension handed to forward Zack Kassian for kicking a Tampa Bay Lightning player earlier in the week.

Edmonton remains without Connor McDavid, who after 30 goals and 81 points in 55 games has missed recent games with a quad injury. This will be his fourth consecutive game out of the lineup.

Carolina right winger Sebastian Aho has an eight-game point streak. Aho and left winger Teuvo Teravainen have assisted on the same goal 27 times this season.

“The Aho line seems to be going pretty good, but we need more,” Brind’Amour said.

Carolina posted a 6-3 road victory against the Oilers in December, with Aho supplying two goals.

–Field Level Media

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