The Carolina Hurricanes go for an encore Tuesday night.
They’re getting rather good at that.
Fresh off a resounding victory Monday against the Chicago Blackhawks highlighted by Sebastian Aho’s hat trick, the teams meet again inRaleigh, N.C., for the second of a three-game set.
“I think the reason we’ve been able to have success this year, we’ve been able to stay in the moment,” Aho said. “That has been the whole message here.”
The Hurricanes (35-10-7, 77 points) hold an 11-game point streak and are in first place in the Central Division.
“There’s a lot on the line,” Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck said. “We’re trying to win every game going down the stretch here.”
Carolina defeated Chicago 5-2 on Monday night and also play Thursday night in Raleigh, which will be the Hurricanes’ home finale.
“We have to do it right all the time,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “It’s all about sharpening up. We have to stay razor sharp here.”
There’s lots to sort out for the Hurricanes during the final week of the regular season.
Goalies Alex Nedeljkovic and James Reimer both have 15 victories to lead the team. Petr Mrazek, who began the season as the No. 1 netminder, has been out with a lower-body injury but it’s possible that he could be back in action this week.
“We’ve got to get Petr going to see if he’s in the mix,” Brind’Amour said.
Nedeljkovic has played in six of Carolina’s last eight games. Brind’Amour has yet to solidify a pecking order for the goalies.
He has been clear about the importance of games across the last week of the team’s regular-season schedule.
“There’s a lot at stake for us,” Brind’Amour said. “We’ve still got to stay focused and finish strong.”
Chicago (22-24-6, 50 points) has lost five games in a row.
Alex DeBrincat has scored in three straight games for the Blackhawks. In compiling a team-leading 26 goals this season, he has only one stretch of goals in four consecutive games, so he’ll try to duplicate that Tuesday night.
There’s a chance that Chicago could use goalie Collin Delia, who was superb at times in his relief of Malcolm Subban Monday night. It was Delia’s first NHL action since Jan. 17.
Coach Jeremy Colliton said the idea was to give Delia some work this week, though it wasn’t in the initial plans for Monday.
The Blackhawks are running out of time to make some positive memories from a season that won’t include the playoffs. They were officially eliminated from postseason contention based on Monday’s results.
“Not the spot we wanted to be in with four games left,” DeBrincat said. “It’s always disappointing when you miss the playoffs. That’s what you work for all year.”
Colliton said, “There’s lots we can improve on and keep working and do everything we can to improve.”
The Hurricanes have other missions. They’re trying to stay mentally fresh and keep striving to have strong performances in each game, forward Martin Necas said.
“It’s the time of year you’ve got to be dialed in and be ready for the playoffs,” Necas said.
–Field Level Media