The Carolina Hurricanes like the way they’ve been playing for the most part, so that tempers the disappointment from some recent results.
But it’s still about winning, and for the Hurricanes, that involves aiming for a better position within the Eastern Conference playoff mix.
Carolina (45-16-8, 98 points) will gear up for the stretch run by facing the host Buffalo Sabres (25-34-11, 61 points) on Tuesday night.
The Hurricanes had a six-game points streak end when they began the final month of the regular season with a 3-1 home loss to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.
They realize that strong performances that end in defeats won’t cut it when the playoffs begin.
“There’s no consolation really in losses,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “But I liked the way we played. If we play like that, that hard (we’ll be good). We didn’t give up that much, and that’s really the key.”
The Hurricanes have failed to score more than two goals in each of their past six defeats in regulation.
“We have to get more in front of the net and get some greasy goals,” forward Nino Niederreiter said.
Buffalo is out of the playoff mix despite some solid results recently. The schedule is unforgiving, though, as they will face another conference power on the heels of Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers. That decision halted the Sabres’ eight-game points streak.
“We had a good March, and we got some pretty good wins against some good teams,” Buffalo forward Kyle Okposo said.
The Sabres have gone 1-1-1 in the first three games of their four-game homestand. They’ve picked up the pace offensively the past couple of weeks yet remain well below the highest-scoring teams in the league.
Tuesday night’s matchup will be the first game of consecutive meetings between the teams, with the rematch coming Thursday night at Raleigh, N.C.
“I think as a young group, as a group that’s trying to build something here, these are important games for us,” Okposo said of the upcoming stretch. “I’m looking forward to seeing how we come out and how we play.”
Buffalo’s second-leading scorer is forward Jeff Skinner, a former Hurricanes standout. He has 28 goals and 22 assists this season.
Carolina linemates Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen both hold seven-game points streaks. Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei tied a career-high mark with seven shots on goal on Saturday.
The Hurricanes have outshot their opponents in three of their past five road games.
This game in Buffalo will begin a trend on Carolina’s schedule. While the Hurricanes won’t have any more consecutive games against the same opponent, they will see several foes multiple times. Of their 13 remaining games, they will have two each against Buffalo, New Jersey, the New York Rangers and New York Islanders.
The Hurricanes, with 98 points, trail only Florida in Eastern Conference points. They’re trying to get to the 100-point mark for the second time in franchise history.
Carolina beat the Sabres 6-2 on Dec. 4 at home in the only previous meeting this season. Teravainen scored two goals in that game.
–Field Level Media