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Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Senators

Hurricanes Will "Empty the Tank" Heading Into Break

Friday, 12.23.2011 / 12:35 PM ET / 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 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 53 15 19 -13 34
V. Rask 51 12 19 1 31
K. Versteeg 52 10 21 1 31
J. Skinner 53 18 12 -3 30
J. Staal 53 12 18 7 30
E. Staal 53 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 53 8 16 -8 24
A. Nestrasil 46 7 12 -1 19
J. Nordstrom 42 5 9 2 14
R. Hainsey 53 3 11 -12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 5 .905 2.43
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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