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Gameday: Empty Tank Before Holiday Break

Monday, 12.23.2013 / 12:30 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Empty Tank Before Holiday Break
The Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets both play in the Metropolitan Division, but in 36 regular-season games, they have yet to come head-to-head – until tonight.

Michael Smith
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In team game 37 for either club, the Canes and Jackets – now division rivals after Columbus moved east in the league’s realignment – will meet in the first of five occasions, three of which will take place at PNC Arena.

The Hurricanes come into tonight’s game at 14-14-8 (identical 7-7-4 home and road records) with 36 points, which ranks them fifth in the Metro Division, just a point behind third-place New Jersey. The Blue Jackets sit in seventh, but they only trail the Hurricanes by two points.

“I think this is a huge game, obviously state-wise and in the standings,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “But we’ve been playing some good hockey, and it’s a matter of getting results when we do.”

Since a five-day break coming off of a four-game road swing out west, the Hurricanes dropped a 4-2 decision to Washington at home on Friday and a 3-2 overtime decision in Tampa Bay on Saturday, results that were opposite of what the team deserved.

“We deserved two points the night before and didn’t get it,” Muller said of the Washington game. “We go down there (Tampa Bay), we didn’t deserve anything and we got a point.”

Versus Washington, the Canes dominated five-on-five play, but giving up three power play goals proved to be the difference. Muller said today that Friday’s game was one of the best efforts his team has put forth all season, special teams aside.

The next night in Tampa Bay, the Canes were vastly outplayed by the Lightning, but Justin Peters put up 47 saves on 50 shots to steal the team a point.

“We were an exhausted team,” Muller said. “The one thing I can say about our group this year is that, even that night, we found a way to get a point. They gave it everything they got.”

Fatigue-wise, losing Jay Harrison to an upper-body injury in the second period didn’t help matters. The Canes will be without his services tonight versus Columbus, and although it wasn’t stated by Muller, Ryan Murphy could draw back into the lineup in Harrison’s stead. Harrison is day-to-day.

“Other than that, we have a good, healthy group,” Muller said.

Muller did not commit to a starting goaltender.

“You’ll see tonight,” he responded, when asked who would start.

Historically, the Canes have not defeated Columbus since Dec. 15, 2005, a 2-1 win in Raleigh. The Blue Jackets have won the last five meetings between the two teams, but the Canes hold a 4-3-0 home record against Columbus.

The Canes did not skate this morning, a multi-faceted decision. For one, Muller said he likes the way his team responds on the ice when not skating in the morning.

“So far this year, we’ve responded by doing well by having no skate in the morning. You can’t always do it because of the schedule,” he said. “When we’re rested and ready to go it seems to benefit us.”

Secondly, Muller wants to see the Canes empty the tank before the three-day holiday break that separates tonight’s game and Friday’s tilt against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who currently lead the Metropolitan Division.

“You want to finish on a good note because we’ll have a few days off before we start up again,” Muller said. “We’ll crank it up, give it all tonight and empty the tank.”



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81