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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Senators

Hurricanes Will "Empty the Tank" Heading Into Break

Friday, 12.23.2011 / 12:35 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Senators
Though the circumstances coming into tonight’s game are similar to Wednesday’s, the Carolina Hurricanes hope the outcome is completely different.

Michael Smith
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For the second game in a row, the Canes face a team that played the night before. Coincidentally enough, the opponent was the Florida Panthers both times. Tonight, the Ottawa Senators come to Raleigh for the last game for either team before the Christmas weekend.

The Senators topped the Panthers 4-3 in overtime last night after Florida tied the game with just over a minute remaining in regulation. After having their plane de-iced for an hour on the tarmac in Ottawa, the Senators finally arrived at their Raleigh hotel this morning at 4 a.m.

Even still, Tuomo Ruutu said the Canes can’t think about that.

“It doesn’t really matter what they do, if they played or not,” he said. “It’s our home ice right before Christmas. We need to leave everything out there and win.”

Head coach Kirk Muller doesn’t buy into the hype of back-to-backs.

“I’ve said all along that back-to-backs are overrated, truthfully,” he said. “Guys are in such great shape today, that … it’s more in the head than anything.

“We’ve got a jump on them, no question. They come in late and all that, but I don’t throw a lot of weight into the back-to-back thing.”

Wednesday night’s game might lend some credence to Muller’s theory. The Hurricanes seemed to have a few steps on a tired Coyotes team, as they led 3-1 in the second period. But Cal O’Reilly’s goal late in the period gave Phoenix life, and the Canes couldn’t hold on. Tonight, Carolina hopes for a different result.

Ottawa comes into tonight’s game with a three-game winning streak. In that stretch, they’ve scored 14 goals. They were also a perfect 2-for-2 on the power play last night against Florida.

Jason Spezza has been a Canes killer this season. He’s scored three of the team’s six goals (seventh team goal was a shootout goal) against Carolina. Spezza is also the Senators’ leading scorer at more than a point per game with 37 (12g, 25a) through 35 games.

Riley Nash, fresh off his NHL debut, and Tim Brent skated this morning with the Hurricanes. According to Muller, a decision on who plays will wait.

“We’ll see tonight,” he said. “That was [Brent’s] first practice, so we’ll see how he responds from a little push in skating today and decide tonight after warm-ups.”

Considering the situation – the last game before a short break and coming off a tough loss – expect the Canes to empty the tank and display a bit of resiliency. Ruutu believes that is no different from any other game.

“It should be the message every night,” he said. “You can’t look too far ahead.”

What the team will look forward too is a short, but sweet two-day Christmas break. A win would certainly lift spirits heading into the weekend and may provide a boost of momentum as the Canes look to close out December strong next week.

“It’s the last game for both teams before the break so I expect both teams to be going all out,” Muller said. “It should be a high-energized game.”

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61