Not to be lost in all the hoopla of the weekend’s Stadium Series game, the Carolina Hurricanes remained one of the hottest teams in the NHL.
Another chance to display that, albeit on a smaller stage, comes when the St. Louis Blues visit for Tuesday night’s game in Raleigh, N.C.
The Hurricanes have won 10 of their last 11 games, the stretch reaching a special mark with Saturday night’s 4-1 victory against the Washington Capitals in a Stadium Series game in front of nearly 57,000 fans at North Carolina State’s Carter-Finley Stadium.
In what was largely a magical experience for the Hurricanes and their fans, the only thing better than would be a successful pursuit to the Stanley Cup.
“A lot of good memories and something I’ll remember for the rest of my life, for sure,” Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook said. “Hockey is alive and well here and when you have a good product on the ice like we do, it expands.”
It could take time for the afterglow of the event to wear off.
“It was so exciting for me just because it was different,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “It was something that I haven’t experienced before. I don’t know how it could be better.”
Martin Necas had a goal and two assists to lead Carolina over Washington. Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Teuvo Teravainen each added a goal and an assist.
For an encore, the Hurricanes will try to keep the momentum flowing for several more weeks and into the playoffs.
The Blues won’t be arriving with the warm and fuzzies after dropping their past two games.
Weekend losses to Colorado and Ottawa by a combined 11-3 score have the Blues experiencing misery after they won their first three games of February. The team is outside the playoff picture in the Western Conference and entering crunch time.
“They have to figure it out,” coach Craig Berube said. “You’ve got to get over what’s going on. They’ve got to play better. That’s how you take control of it.”
Berube said he’s looking for leadership from veteran players on the team. There’s an understandable gap with last week’s trade of captain Ryan O’Reilly.
Left winger Jake Neighbours of the Blues sustained an upper-body injury Sunday at Ottawa and didn’t return, putting his availability for the rest of this week in question.
“He’s probably out a while,” Berube said. “I feel for him. One of our younger guys that is up and coming. It’s a tough blow, for sure.”
For the Blues, the Carolina game marks one of only two road games this month. This is the middle game of the Hurricanes’ five-game homestand.
Carolina is 19-6-2 in home games. The Blues are 13-14-1 on the road, with those 27 points accounting for nearly half of the team’s 55 total.
The Hurricanes won 6-4 on Dec. 1 at St. Louis, with Martinook producing a hat trick.
Brind’Amour has continued to make minor adjustments with line combinations and said it was part of the process of a season.
“We tweak those six forward a little bit,” Brind’Amour said. “You’re going to have that during the year. You just switch things up to get a different look.”
–Field Level Media