Hurricanes-Blue Jackets Preview
The Carolina Hurricanes appear to have turned their play around, while the Columbus Blue Jackets continue to slide.
The visiting Hurricanes can record a third straight victory by handing the Blue Jackets a sixth consecutive defeat Tuesday night in the first of two meetings in four days.
Carolina (2-6-2) ended the worst start in club history with a 3-0 home victory over Arizona on Saturday, then beat Los Angeles 3-2 a night later.
The Hurricanes appear to have finally found some comfort in first-year coach Bill Peters' system. They're also healthier now that forwards Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner and Nathan Gerbe are in the mix after missing a combined 13 games.
"I think this weekend we started to form an identity, and the guys started to believe," Peters told the Hurricanes' official website.
Second-year center Elias Lindholm has provided Carolina with a boost by scoring all three of his goals and an adding an assist in the last two contests.
"It seems like he's got the puck on his stick a little more, and he's comfortable having the puck," Peters said. "He's a very skilled player at 19 years old."
Though Carolina hasn't scored more than three goals in a game and struggling veteran forward Alexander Semin could be a healthy scratch for a third straight contest, its defense and goaltender Cam Ward came through over the weekend.
Ward was 0-3-1 with a 3.95 goals-against average before stopping 55 of 57 shots against the Coyotes and Kings.
"Play hard each and every night, and it's contagious," said Peters, whose team yielded 33 goals in the first eight games. "Believe me when I tell you, it's contagious."
With the fewest points in the league, the Hurricanes still have a ways to go.
''We have to keep working on this process that we're on and get better,'' Staal said.
Carolina hopes to build more momentum by ending an 0-5-1 road start - its longest since the 2009-10 team went a franchise-worst 0-10-3.
Ward is 0-2-0 with a 4.46 GAA in three starts at Columbus.
The Hurricanes snapped a four-game road skid to the Blue Jackets with a 3-1 victory March 18.
Columbus (4-7-0) has dropped two straight at home during an overall losing streak that reached five with Saturday's 3-2 defeat at New Jersey. The Blue Jackets matched their longest slide of last season.
Columbus led 2-1 after two periods but failed to add on despite 15 shots in the third.
"We worked hard all game, but you have to do more than working hard to win hockey games," said center Ryan Johansen, shut out after recording five goals and eight assists during a 10-game point streak.
Columbus has been held to eight goals in five games after recording 20 in the first six.
Though Anton Forsberg drew positive reviews from coach Todd Richards with 26 saves in his NHL debut Saturday, the Blue Jackets' penalty-killing unit allowed two more goals.
Columbus opponents went 0 for 11 with the man advantage in the first five games but are 9 for 25 in the last six.
Nick Foligno snapped a three-game point drought with a goal and an assist Saturday. Johansen had two of each against the Hurricanes last season.
The teams meet again Friday night at Raleigh.