The Carolina Hurricanes' winning streak is over.
Thursday's 6-4 loss to Chicago snapped the team's winning streak at 5 games--their first defeat dating all the way back to January 16th.
On Sunday afternoon, the Canes (6-2-0, 12 pts) will look to get back to winning ways against the Columbus Blue Jackets (5-4-3, 13 pts).
However, the Canes will be without winger Martin Necas, who took a hit and banged his head on the ice in the waning minutes of the loss at Chicago.
Speaking to the media on Saturday, Canes' head coach Rod Brind'Amour sounded an optimistic note on the young Czech forward, noting that he only expects Necas to be "out for a little while."
Brind'Amour didn't mention a concussion or the concussion protocol--either of which might delay Necas' return for much longer.
Necas' prognosis might have Brind'Amour breathing a sigh of relief, but his team's performance on special teams left him scratching his head.
Asked about his team's penalty-killing performance (the Canes gave up 3 powerplay goals), Brind'Amour said:
"It was a little bit of everything. We did have a 5-on-3 and we were doing a good job, and we had it on our stick and didn't get it out. There you go, then it's in your net. And they've got obviously a world-class player out there [Patrick Kane] that really controls the power play. You can't give them second chances. It was a bunch of things. We weren't aggressive enough, in my opinion. We just gave them too much time, and that's death in this league."
Defenseman Dougie Hamilton was even more to the point:
"We were definitely sloppy. We gave up a lot of breakaways. Our power play was very bad. Our PK was very bad. It's hard to win when you have those things."
But it's not all doom and gloom. Jesper Fast (COVID protocol) is expected to return to the lineup for the Canes. Expect him to draw into the 3rd line next to Jordan Staal, who has started the season red-hot.
Teuvo Teravainen, having returned from the COVID list earlier this week, is expected to move to the 2nd line centered by Vincent Trocheck.
On defense, Jaccob Slavin, who has seemed less than 100% since coming off the COVID list, may drop down to the 2nd pairing with Brett Pesce.
James Reimer (4-1-0, .900 SV%, 2.75 GAA), who had his own four game winning streak snapped against Chicago, should get his third straight start in net for the Canes.
The Canes' expected lines:
Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Brock McGinn
Nino Niederreiter - Vincent Trocheck - Teuvo Teravainen
Warren Foegele - Jordan Staal - Jesper Fast
Ryan Dzingel - Morgan Geekie - Jordan Martinook
Brady Skjei - Dougie Hamilton
Jaccob Slavin - Brett Pesce
Jake Gardiner - Haydn Fleury
Injuries and Scratches: Max McCormick (IR upper body), Petr Mrazek (thumb), Martin Necas (upper body)
The Canes' opponent for the next two games will be the Columbus Blue Jackets (5-4-3, 13 pts). Columbus is coming off a 4-3 victory over Dallas on Thursday night.
It's been a year since the Canes took on Columbus, and there have been some key changes since then.
Gone is the disgruntled Pierre Luc-Dubois, shipped to Winnipeg in exchange for RW Patrik Laine.
Top defenseman Zach Werenski is expected to miss Sunday's game with an undisclosed injury. Werenski has 4 points and 29 shots through the Blue Jacket's 12 games.
In net, Joonas Korpisalo (3-2-2, .914 SV%, 2.90 GAA) should get the start.
The Blue Jackets' expected lines:
Patrik Laine - Jack Roslovic - Cam Atkinson
Max Domi - Alexandre Texier - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Nick Foligno - Riley Nash - Eric Robinson
Boone Jenner - Mikko Koivu - Liam Foudy
Dean Kukan - Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov - David Savard
Scott Harrington - Michael Del Zotto
Injuries and Scratches: Gustav Nyquist (IR shoulder), Zach Werenski (undisclosed)