Caught in a sudden goals drought, the Carolina Hurricanes will try to re-ignite their scoring touch when they host the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday in Raleigh, N.C.
It was a weekend to forget for the Hurricanes, who went scoreless in losses on consecutive days against the Vegas Golden Knights and New Jersey Devils. It was the first time since the 2013-14 season that the Hurricanes had been shut out in consecutive games.
Carolina outshot Vegas 33-24 in Saturday’s 4-0 loss. Sunday’s 3-0 defeat followed a similar script, as the Hurricanes held a 32-23 shots advantage over New Jersey.
“We’re playing hard and we’re getting our chances,” Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin said. “So we’ve just got to just continue to get those chances and play the right way to get those chances. So I don’t know if it’s a slump necessarily, but we’ll get out of it.”
The shutout losses followed a four-game winning streak for the Hurricanes. The club recorded two shutout wins of their own during that dominant streak, outscoring opponents by a hefty 17-4 margin.
The Hurricanes and Devils are now even with 94 points apiece, but Carolina is still atop the Metropolitan Division due to a tiebreaker advantage.
The Jets are in an even tougher postseason battle, fighting to try and gain ground in the Central Division while also holding off teams below them in the wild card standings.
Those playoff chances were boosted by a pair of impressive wins in the first two games of Winnipeg’s three-game road trip. After a 5-4 overtime victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday, the Jets followed up with a 3-2 win Sunday over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It’s a real desperate time for us for points, and we have to keep pace with everybody in our division and our conference,” Jets associate coach Scott Arniel said. “We knew it was going to be a tough trip, and so far, we’ve been off to a great start.”
In a contrast to the Hurricanes’ nightmarish weekend, the Jets won both games despite being drastically outshot. The Panthers and Lightning combined for 83 shots against the Jets’ 49 shots on net.
Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was outstanding against this pressure, stopping 77 of 83 shots. Though Tuesday would mark Hellebuyck’s fourth game in six days, he is likely to start again in these critical games for the Jets’ playoff push.
Frederik Andersen is the Hurricanes’ probable starter in net on Tuesday, since Antti Raanta has now missed three games with a lower-body injury.
Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey and Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov are both questionable for Tuesday. The two players missed their teams’ last games due to lower-body injuries.
Winnipeg forward Nino Niederreiter has six points (three goals, three assists) during a six-game points streak.
Carolina’s penalty-kill unit is a perfect 27-for-27 over its last 11 games. In their last 25 games, the Hurricanes are 65-for-70 on penalty kills, with more short-handed goals scored (eight) than power-play goals allowed (five).
In the two teams’ first meeting of the season, the Jets earned a 4-3 overtime win over the Hurricanes in Winnipeg on Nov. 21.
–Field Level Media