Stars, Hurricanes intent on making playoff push
Grinding through this stretch is what the Carolina Hurricanes are intent on doing.
A similar sentiment has been expressed by the Dallas Stars.
The two determined teams will meet for the first time this season Saturday night at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. Both are firmly in the playoff picture, with the Stars sitting in the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference, the Hurricanes one point out of the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
The Hurricanes defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 on Friday night, but there have been ebbs and flows. Maintaining a work ethic that largely has been beneficial is crucial, coach Rod Brind'Amour said.
"I expected us to be very competitive," Brind'Amour said. "Where that was going to lead us, I wasn't sure. ... That leaves us searching to keep getting better."
With less than two months remaining in the regular season, Brind'Amour said it's important to avoid being distracted by the big picture and to concentrate on the next assignment.
"We're getting down to the nitty gritty," Brind'Amour said. "We focus pretty well on one day at a time. We're still in that mode, for sure. It's going to be a grind for us all the way to the end and we hope to still be in the hunt."
With the Hurricanes hitting the 30-win mark Friday, Brind'Amour reached that mark faster than any coach in franchise history. It took him 58 games.
The Stars are coming off Thursday night's 6-0 loss at Tampa Bay, with Dallas coach Jim Montgomery calling the Lightning the best team in the league.
"You learn and you get better from it," Montgomery said. "This time of the year we focus on the positives and it's about building the right way and that's what we're going to do."
The game at Carolina completes a stretch of five straight road games for the Stars. The latter portion of the stretch involved two games in Florida before Saturday night.
"The whole time on this trip we want to win two out of three and that's still in front of us," Montgomery said.
The Stars have gone 1-2-1 overall on the road stretch.
Carolina, which began a three-game homestand Friday night, has made regular use of four lines. That could aid them in games on consecutive nights, though Brind'Amour doesn't want the fatigue topic to be part of the mindset for his team.
"I don't read a lot into the back-to-backs," Brind'Amour said. "But having four lines that can play is pivotal. Having them and being able to throw them out there (is a plus)."
Carolina will go into the game on a stretch of having stopped its opponent's last 40 shots. After giving up a goal on the first Edmonton shot Friday night, Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney turned away the next 40 attempts.
Dallas left winger Blake Comeau didn't play at Tampa Bay with an upper-body injury. Montgomery said Comeau will be listed as probable for Saturday's game. Valeri Nichushkin filled Comeau's spot in the lineup Thursday.
The Stars reassigned right wing Denis Gurianov to the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League on Friday.
This will be the first of two meetings between Dallas and Carolina across an eight-day period.
Field Level Media
Updated February 16, 2019