Although the playoffs are all but out of reach, Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters expects to see some better efforts from his team soon.
The Hurricanes will try to avoid a third consecutive loss Sunday and a fourth straight defeat to the lowly Edmonton Oilers.
Carolina (24-32-7) looked like it might be giving its faint playoff hopes a little life by winning three straight to end February. The Hurricanes, though, have failed to carry that success into this month, losing both games by a combined 8-3.
They allowed two third-period goals to Minnesota in a 3-1 loss Friday that snapped a three-game home win streak. They also got off to another slow start.
Carolina has combined for nine shots in the opening periods of its back-to-back losses after totaling 42 in its three consecutive wins.
"We used to be this hard-working, honest group. We haven't been the last two times out," Peters said. "We've going to have to get it figured out because we're not going to watch this 19 more times. I know that."
Carolina, trailing by 19 points for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot, will next take on a team that's all but eliminated from the West race. The Oilers (18-36-11) are last in their conference and could net one of the top picks in what's considered a deep draft.
They're on pace for 59 points, which would mark their fewest in a season with at least 82 games.
Edmonton lost to Chicago 2-1 in a shootout on Friday for its third straight defeat and fifth in six games.
The Oilers, without seven regulars for the opener to a five-game trip, couldn't pad an early lead despite generating 47 shots, their second-most this season. They gave up the tying goal with 6:02 remaining in regulation.
"If we play the same way we played (Friday), we'll be fine," forward Benoit Pouliot said. "These are the type of games we have to get two points. We have a chance to do that tomorrow."
The Oilers had their best scoring output of the season in a 6-3 over the Hurricanes on Oct. 24. They've won their last three in the series to match their longest active winning streak over a single opponent. Edmonton has also won three in a row over Montreal.
Jordan Eberle had two goals and an assist in this season's only matchup but hasn't scored a goal in 14 games since Feb. 2. Eberle, however, does have 11 assists in his last 12 contests.
Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner each have seven points in their last five games against Edmonton. Skinner has six goals and two assists in his past 11 contests but hasn't scored a goal in his last three.
Staal has one assist in his last four games.
One bright spot for Carolina has been its penalty kill. The Hurricanes have not allowed a power-play goal on 13 chances in their last seven games, and have killed 21 of 22 penalties in their last 13.
The Oilers are 1 for 10 on the power play in their last six contests.