NHL Hockey

Hurricanes-Senators Preview

Newcomers in various fashions have made recent impacts for the Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators.

With roster changes hitting both teams, the opportunity for special debuts in one way or another has been present.

Those types of themes involving newcomers could be part of the backdrop again Sunday afternoon when the teams meet at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.

The Hurricanes found a new source of offense in their last game, Friday's 4-2 win over Columbus, when Greg McKegg supplied a goal and an assist in his first game with the team.

McKegg, a 26-year-old center, is with his fifth NHL team, though he spent all of this season in the American Hockey League until Friday night.

"It's special. You never know when it's going to come again so you have to keep grinding away," McKegg said. "When the opportunity comes, you've got to be ready for it."

McKegg produced the first multi-point game in his 92-game NHL career. It was ideal timing.

"You want to put your best foot forward any way you can," McKegg said.

The Hurricanes (18-17-5, 41 points) have won three games in a row for only the third time this season. Their lone four-game win streak came in early October.

Among the recent contributors has been defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who has scored in back-to-back games.

"I think I've been playing better, and had some stuff heal up a little bit and that has helped me lately," Hamilton said. "Some go in, some don't. So you can't change whether you're scoring or not."

The Senators (15-22-5, 35 points) are coming off a 4-3 loss Saturday afternoon against the Minnesota Wild. That dropped their record to 0-6-1 across the last seven games, with several areas to address.

"I'm always in need of more shots," Ottawa coach Guy Boucher said. "That's one of the biggest struggles that I've had since I've been here. Putting a puck on net for some of our guys is not a play. ... I'm a huge believer in that. It's something that I've been harping on."

Boucher said the Senators should have 6-10 more shots per game.

"You've got to be stubborn because you believe in something," Boucher said. "That's something we can be better at. We do create those opportunities."

Ottawa has had some notable roster shuffling.

Defenseman Christian Jaros returned from a finger injury and played Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.

The Senators are expected to have center Jean-Gabriel Pageau back for Sunday's game. Pageau hasn't played this season since suffering an Achilles injury during training camp.

"I've been waiting for that first game," Pageau said. "I thought it was going to be the first of the season. Unfortunately it's going to be halfway through. But I'm excited and I'm so grateful."

Ottawa had recently acquired goalie Anders Nilsson in goal Saturday for his Ottawa debut.

That likely makes it Marcus Hogberg in line for his fourth career appearance on Sunday. Hogberg is without an NHL victory.

The Senators used rookie left winger Rudolfs Balcers for his first NHL game Saturday against Minnesota.

"He's really good with his hands in close," Boucher said. "He's a shooter. Anything inside those dots, that puck is gone. He's a straight-line, first-on-puck-guy who forces himself in. We don't have enough of that."

Boucher said the 21-year-old Balcers might be able to tilt the balance in the emphasis to put more pucks on net.

This is the first of three scheduled meetings between Carolina and Ottawa this season.

Updated January 5, 2019

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