Carolina Hurricanes are healthy, and turning around a woeful start to 2014-15.
Injuries have the Columbus Blue Jackets experiencing the opposite, and now they're without Jack Johnson.
The Hurricanes will try to capitalize on another meeting with the struggling Blue Jackets as they try to extend their winning streak by sweeping this home-and-home set Friday night in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Carolina (3-6-2) opened the season with eight straight losses for the worst start in franchise history. Eight players were sidelined with injuries in that stretch, while Jordan Staal was lost in preseason to a broken right leg.
While Staal isn't expected back for at least two more months, the others have returned to help spark the Hurricanes' three-game winning streak. They've outscored opponents 10-4 over that stretch after being outscored by an average of 2.0 during the skid.
"We want to keep the feeling going, obviously," said captain Eric Staal, who has one goal and two assists in four games after missing five with an upper-body injury. "We've got everyone in the lineup who's supposed to be there and we're feeling more comfortable in what we're doing. We've just got to keep it going.
"It's a lot funner being on the winning side than where we were before."
It certainly looked that way Tuesday, when the Hurricanes scored the game's first two goals and cruised to a 4-2 win over the Blue Jackets (4-8-0).
"Yeah, we're rolling," said Cam Ward, who had 17 saves.
Columbus is sliding, dropping six games in a row after winning four of its first six. The Blue Jackets haven't endured a longer losing streak since opening 2011-12 at 0-7-1.
Injuries are partly why they're close to matching that dubious mark. They're without eight players, including forwards Nathan Horton (back), Brandon Dubinsky (abdominal surgery), Artem Anisimov (concussion) and Mark Letestu (groin). Additionally, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and defenseman James Wisniewski are nursing broken fingers.
Now, they'll be without Johnson, who was suspended three games without pay for an illegal check to Carolina forward Jiri Tlusty's head. His five points are tied with David Savard for the most among Jackets defensemen.
Still, Columbus isn't making excuses.
"We're on a six-game losing skid and there's no reason for it," left wing Nick Foligno said. "How do you win? Usually when you get out of a losing skid it's because you're cracking the net and you're getting ugly goals. You're doing what's necessary to score goals. We're not doing that. We're trying to make an extra play, trying to be too cute."
Foligno is doing his part with three goals and one assist in two games, finding the net twice Tuesday to give him a team-high six on the season. He hasn't scored in 11 career games at Carolina, but has managed an assist in each of his last four visits.
Curtis McElhinney, Bobrovsky's backup, will likely be back in net after stopping 33 shots Tuesday. He's 1-3-0 with a 3.74 goals-against average in four starts against the Hurricanes, and 0-3-0 with a 4.08 GAA in four starts this season.
It's unclear if Carolina will have Tlusty available, as he undergoes concussion protocol. The left wing leads the Hurricanes with six goals, but he has none in seven meetings with Columbus.