The Carolina Hurricanes are looking to stay in playoff mode for the final few games of the regular season.
They’ve clinched home-ice advantage for at least the first round of a Central Division series, but there’s more at stake going into Thursday night’s home finale against the Chicago Blackhawks in Raleigh, N.C.
“We want to make sure we’re playing the right way every night,” Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin said. “Making sure we have that playoff mode engaged before playoffs even hit.”
Things are coming together in fine fashion for the Hurricanes, who own a 12-game points streak. That puts them one game away from the longest points streak in franchise history. The 2016-17 team had a 13-game points streak (in March of that season).
Carolina is on a 9-0-3 roll after winning twice this week against Chicago. The latest outcome was Tuesday night’s 6-3 result, with the Hurricanes rallying from a two-goal deficit after the first period.
“I feel like we always just work and work,” Hurricanes left winger Teuvo Teravainen said. “I feel like we always have a chance to come back.”
Teravainen’s comeback from a recent absence because of a concussion has been part of Carolina’s latest surge. He has six points in five games since returning from a two-month period when he played in just one game.
Others are making a difference as well. Sebastian Aho is on a season-best nine-game points steak. Nino Niederreiter scored twice Tuesday and now has reached the 20-goal mark for the fifth different season.
The Hurricanes (36-10-7, 79 points) are assured of at least second place in the Central Division. The Blackhawks (22-25-6, 50 points) won’t be in the playoffs, but they’ll try to snap a six-game losing streak Thursday night.
“We’re learning hard lessons, for sure,” Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We want to find 60 minutes of consistency, and that’s where we’re at. We got to find new energy for the next one.”
On the positive side for Chicago, team goals leader Alex DeBrincat appears to be finishing the season strong. He holds a four-game streak of at least one goal, something he has accomplished for the second time this season.
Chicago’s Patrick Kane had two assists in the most recent game, so he’s a player the Hurricanes need to keep tabs on.
“He’s always making something happen,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said of Kane. “Tough guy to control.”
Mike Hardman, in his fifth NHL game, had his first career goal on one of Kane’s assists.
“It was an awesome feeling, and now we’re focusing on the next game,” Hardman said. “… (Kane) is a guy I’ve watched my whole life play, and for him to record an assist on it was pretty cool.”
The Blackhawks will look at that first period from Tuesday as something to try to replicate.
“They’re one of the best teams in the league for a reason,” Hardman said. “I think if we play a full 60 like that (in the opening period) we should beat that team.”
The Hurricanes are still trying to work goalie Petr Mrazek back into a groove following another injury. He was in action Tuesday night for the first time since April 19.
“We’ve got to get him a couple of more games to get him up to speed,” Brind’Amour said. “He hasn’t played enough.”
The Hurricanes, who close with two games at Nashville, have a 20-3-4 record in home games. They’d like one more good performance on home ice before coming back for the playoffs.
–Field Level Media