The Carolina Hurricanes already are one of the hottest teams in the NHL.
They could be receiving yet another boost.
With the return of left winger Teuvo Teravainen to the lineup, the Hurricanes might be stronger in several areas when they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night in Raleigh, N.C.
“He wants to play,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “You monitor and you look at him. He was doing it right (in preparing to return).”
Teravainen was in his second game back after missing most of two months when he notched a goal and an assist in Thursday night’s 3-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings.
“I’m sure it helps him a lot getting confidence up,” linemate Sebastian Aho said of Teravainen’s role in goals. “We know it’s all a lot more than that. He makes the right plays all over the ice.”
The Central Division-leading Hurricanes (33-10-7, 73 points) carry a nine-game points streak into the second game of a five-game homestand.
The last-place Blue Jackets (16-25-10, 42 points) had lost nine straight games before Tuesday night’s 1-0 victory against the Detroit Red Wings.
“That’s why you play — to win,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said.
Yet this could be a case of the rich getting richer if Teravainen, who had been out for 32 games in a 33-game stretch because of a concussion, is about to embark on a productive stretch.
“He’s as competitive as anybody,” Brind’Amour said. “It is important for him to get in our lineup and get games under his belt.”
It’s probably a bonus that Aho is playing strong stretches because his familiarity with Teravainen could accelerate his linemate’s return to form. Aho holds a season-long six-game points streak, and he has eclipsed the 50-point mark in the 50 games played.
“Especially now when I haven’t played in a long time, it’s good to have Aho be there,” Teravainen said.
Brind’Amour said Teravainen’s minutes on the penalty-killing units are bound to increase as he plays in a few more games.
“He can handle whatever we throw at him,” Brind’Amour said.
Teravainen isn’t the only Carolina player looking to regain a groove prior to the team beginning the playoffs. Defenseman Brady Skjei missed four games before returning to face Detroit, and he notched the game’s first goal.
Skjei also had been out with a concussion, though his absence wasn’t nearly as prolonged.
“You got to be cautious with any kind of head injury like that,” Skjei said. “Concussions are definitely scary thing.”
In nine of Columbus’ games during April, the Blue Jackets were held to two or fewer goals. That level of struggles puts pressure on the team all around the ice.
“We can’t afford a bad goal (allowed) because we just don’t score enough,” Tortorella said.
The Hurricanes are 17-3-4 in home games. That’s more victories on home ice than the Blue Jackets have overall.
This will be the final meeting of the season between the teams. Carolina owns a 4-1-2 series lead this year.
–Field Level Media