The Carolina Hurricanes didn’t make a big splash at the trade deadline, and now it’s time to see if that was the right approach.
Carolina has been steady for most of the season and there wasn’t an inclination to disrupt any of that. The Hurricanes return from a two-game road trip intact and take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday afternoon in Raleigh, N.C.
It already has been an eventful trip for the Lightning after the benching of a key line.
It’s brighter for the Hurricanes after Friday night’s 6-1 romp at Arizona.
That means Sunday’s game will mark the Carolina home debut for newly acquired defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who scored in his first game with the Hurricanes. However, he had two assists in Carolina’s home arena when the Coyotes, his former team, won there in October.
“These guys (on the Carolina team) have been awesome,” Gostisbehere said. “I’m asking questions every shift and they’ve been great.”
Gostisbehere put up seven shots in his only outing this season against Tampa Bay.
The Lightning lost 5-3 on Saturday at Buffalo, extending a losing streak to four games. That’s the longest skid of the season for Tampa Bay.
Yet Brayden Point, who opened Saturday’s scoring, has scored a goal in seven consecutive games.
But in the third period, Point, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov weren’t on the ice for the Lightning, which scored the game’s final two goals.
“You’ve got to put your team in the best position to win and 99.9 percent of the time those guys give us the best chance to win when they’re on the ice,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “It just felt, in the third period, they weren’t giving us the best chance to win. … I thought the other guys could get it done, and you know what? They almost did.”
Cooper pretty much said that the message had been sent and there’s no expected fallout for the visit to Carolina.
“Like I said, those guys are the reason we have a standard that high,” Cooper said. “It’s because of those guys.”
This will be the first of two visits to Raleigh this month for the Lightning.
Gostisbehere is the only relative newcomer to produce from the Hurricanes’ blue line. Brent Burns, who was an off-season acquisition, is the franchise’s first defenseman with four assists in a game since the relocation from Hartford, Conn., to North Carolina 25 years ago.
The Hurricanes weren’t overly active on the trade market prior to the deadline. That was by design, so the team that’s returning home from the road trip is pretty much the same group.
“Making a trade just for the sake of making a trade is not what we do here,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said. “We’re also not going to spend a big price on rental players. My coach really likes the players we have.”
The Hurricanes have been one of the top teams in the NHL throughout the season. There was no sense in a major shake-up.
“We have something good with this bunch of guys, led by (coach) Rod (Brind’Amour),” Waddell said. “They believe in each other. This group is very close. There was concern that we maybe had to lose someone off of our roster.”
The Hurricanes won 4-3 on Nov. 3 at Tampa Bay.
It figures to be goalie Frederik Andersen’s turn in the Carolina nets.
–Field Level Media