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Gameday: Homestand Continues vs. Winnipeg

Tuesday, 02.4.2014 / 12:15 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Homestand Continues vs. Winnipeg
The Carolina Hurricanes’ four-game homestand leading into the Olympic break continues Tuesday when they host the Winnipeg Jets.

Michael Smith
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The Canes are looking to ride the momentum of a successful January, in which the team posted a 10-4-0 record.

“Everyone knows that every game is so important. You want to look at it one game at a time, obviously, but we know the countdown is on with the Olympic break coming up,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “It’s kind of nice because guys can go all out and start resting next week. We have a tough opponent tonight that’s playing really well, and we’ve got to put all our focus on this game tonight.”

Tonight’s tilt marks the first of two meetings between the two teams, who are now no longer divisional rivals. While the road team has claimed victory in 16 of the last 22 meetings between these two clubs, the Canes are 14-10-5 at home this season and are riding a three-game home winning streak.

“We’re playing a simple game here,” Muller said. “The big focus is there, as well. I think everyone understand where we are in the standings and what the league’s all about. When you have an opportunity to win at home, good teams have a good home record, and we knew we had to get it going in a better direction. We did that in the month of January, so now we just have to build on it.”

The Canes’ homestand also comes at a time when the schedule loosens up a bit. In late January, the Canes played a sequence of five games in seven nights, earning eight out of a 10 possible points (4-1-0). But rest is never a negative.

“The way our team plays – we’ve got to skate and move the puck – it helps when you have that extra energy,” Muller said. “We went through that grinding part of the schedule, but now it’s the same mentality. No secret. We’ll say give it all here tonight. We’ll have a couple days to rest again and go back at it. We should be focused and ready to play hard here tonight.”

The Jets come in to town with an 8-2-0 record in their last 10 games, tying a franchise best over a 10-game stretch. Winnipeg is led by former two-time Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice, who spent 920 of his 1,094 career games as an NHL head coach behind the bench for Carolina.

On the Canes bench is someone who played in 346 games for the Winnipeg franchise over five seasons: Ron Hainsey, who was signed by the Canes as a free agent in early September. Hainsey has played in all 54 games for the Hurricanes this season, and he ranks third on the team in average ice time per game at 21:09. He’s also blocked a team second-best 76 shots.

“[He’s brought] enthusiasm and some life to the room. He’s got a good personality in terms of bringing that to our room. We needed some veteran guys to bring that type of mindset,” Muller said. “He’s been slotted in the No. 3 spot since the beginning. He fits in with the way we wanted our D to be puck-moving guys. He’s been very competitive, and he’s been pretty consistent.”

In other roster notes, forward Radek Dvorak and defenseman Mike Komisarek are expected to again be the healthy extras.

Anton Khudobin will make his seventh straight start in net, which will also mark his 15th consecutive appearance in goal for the Canes since returning from an ankle injury. Khudobin is 10-4-0 since returning and 12-4-0 on the season. He holds a 2.16 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. On Monday, Khudobin was named the NHL’s first star of the month for January, becoming the fifth player in franchise history to earn player of the month honor.

“He’s colorful, and he’s got a unique personality,” Muller said when asked to describe Khudobin. “He loves to compete, and he’s been a competitor. It was great to see him get rewarded yesterday.”



SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

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