Raleigh, NC -- The Carolina Hurricanes (20-7-1, 41pts) host the Columbus Blue Jackets (11-12-7, 29pts) in the first of a four-game series between the teams.
The Hurricanes are coming off of a loss for the first time in March, after losing to the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 4-2 on Tuesday Night.
Jordan Martinook, who will skate in his 400th career NHL game tonight, spoke about the importance of moving on after the eight-game winning streak came to an end in Detroit.
"We want to [get off to a good start] tonight. We want to get back on track. We know that Columbus is a [team that plays] a hard-checking game. There's not a whole lot of room out there [against them]. They play a hard-working style, and we try to do the same."
One factor the Canes can use to move on is their powerplay. The team leads the NHL with a 31.9% conversion rate with the man-advantage. Asked why this year's powerplay is so good compared to prior years, Jaccob Slavin had an answer.
"The biggest difference from years past is that guys are really making a point to shoot the puck, and obviously, you have guys on the ice that can shoot the puck really well. And so, that makes it that much easier."
One of the guys who can 'shoot the puck really well' is Dougie Hamilton. The 27-year-old Hamilton is riding a career-best, NHL-leading, nine-game point streak (2g, 9a).
Carolina Head Coach Rod Brind'Amour did not have any good news to share on Vincent Trocheck, Teuvo Teravainen, or Petr Mrazek. All three players are expected to miss tonight's game.
However, reports indicate that Mrazek had pins removed from his right hand earlier this week--another step on the road to full recovery.
Alex Nedeljkovic (6-2-1, .929 SV%, 2.08 GAA) will get the start for the Canes. Nedeljkovic has won four straight games, and his save percentage ranks third in the NHL among goalies who have played at least five games.
The Canes' expected lines:
Andrei Svechnikov — Jordan Staal — Jesper Fast
Nino Niederreiter — Sebastian Aho — Martin Necas
Brock McGinn — Jordan Martinook — Warren Foegele
Cedric Paquette — Morgan Geekie — Steven Lorentz
Jaccob Slavin — Dougie Hamilton
Brady Skjei — Brett Pesce
Haydn Fleury — Jake Bean
Injuries: Petr Mrazek (hand surgery), Teuvo Teravainen (concussion), Vincent Trocheck (upper body)
Columbus Looks To Make A Move
With 26 games remaining in their season, it's crunch time for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus has 29 points through 30 games played--four points behind the Chicago Blackhawks for the final playoff spot in the Central Division.
One way for the Blue Jackets to increase their chances would be to improve their special teams.
Columbus is currently 25th in the NHL on the powerplay. On the road, they're 30th out of 31 teams.
Penalty Killing is also a problem. The Blue Jackets rank 28th, with a lowly 72.9% kill rate.
Going up against the league's best powerplay unit, the Blue Jackets will need to conjure up something special on the kill.
Joonas Korpisalo (7-9-5, .899 SV%, 3.03 GAA) will get the start for Columbus in net.
Columbus' expected lines:
Max Domi — Jack Roslovic — Cam Atkinson
Oliver Bjorkstrand — Nick Foligno — Patrik Laine
Boone Jenner — Riley Nash — Mikhail Grigorenko
Eric Robinson — Ryan Macinnis — Stefan Matteau
Zach Werenski — Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov — David Savard
Dean Kukan — Michael Del Zotto
Injuries: Gustav Nyquist (IR Shoulder), Emil Bemstrom (IR lower body), Alexandre Texier (virus protocol)