Looking to clinch playoff spot, Hurricanes visit Stars

NHL Hockey

The Carolina Hurricanes have been one of the NHL’s best teams in April.

The Dallas Stars are right there with them.

The Central Division teams meet Monday and Tuesday night in Dallas in a pair of games that end the Stars’ home schedule.

The Hurricanes (31-10-6, 68 points) continue to lead the division and need just one more point to seal a playoff berth. They were denied that clinching moment Saturday night when the Florida Panthers rallied from a two-goal, third-period deficit and then won in overtime, 4-3.

Carolina holds a six-game points streak after finishing the series against second-place Florida with a 6-0-2 record.

After a pair of emotional games in south Florida, the Hurricanes will have to refocus. They say it’s too soon to ponder the postseason possibilities.

“We’ll get there when we get there,” said Carolina defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who is slated to play in his 600th NHL game Monday.

The Hurricanes are 3-0-1 so far on a six-game road stretch.

“We got three out of four (points in the two games against the Panthers), short-staffed and everything else,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I think that’s a win for us in a lot of ways.”

Dallas, meantime, used an overtime goal to win Saturday night, edging the host Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on Jamie Benn’s goal. The Stars outshot Detroit by 52-17.

“We just stuck to our game play, kept playing the right way,” Benn said.

The Stars (20-15-12, 52 points) are 7-1-2 in their past 10 games and are approaching a playoff spot. They are just two points behind fourth-place Nashville but have two games in hand.

“The feeling is good,” Benn said. “Fate is in our hands. We’ve got a big two games coming up here against a really good hockey team.”

After the next two games at home, where the Stars are 12-6-8, they hit the road for their final seven games where they are just 8-9-4.

“The guys know what’s at stake,” Dallas coach Rick Bowness said. “We know what we’re playing for right now. We know the desperation level we need to play at.”

The Stars have perked some interest with the possibility that forward Tyler Seguin could make his season debut soon. He has been one of the most productive players in the Stars’ history.

“He’s anxious to play, there’s no question,” Bowness said.

The Hurricanes have dug into their depth, with left wingers Brock McGinn and Jordan Martinook, right winger Jesper Fast and defenseman Brady Skjei among the players recently out with injuries.

Alex Nedeljkovic has made three consecutive starts in the nets for Carolina, partly because Petr Mrazek is nursing an injury. Nedeljkovic had won four straight decisions prior to the overtime outcome Saturday.

“Guys don’t have to play right now with injuries,” Brind’Amour said. “We don’t need to do that.”

The Hurricanes are 15-7-2 in road games this season, including two wins in Dallas. Carolina is 5-1-0 against the Stars, having scored six power-play goals in the first four matchups. Then they went a combined 0-for-2 in two meetings earlier this month in Raleigh, N.C.

–Field Level Media

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