Hurricanes continue tough stretch versus Blackhawks (Dec 30, 2016)

RALEIGH, N.C. — With playing marque teams in consecutive games, the Carolina Hurricanes aren’t easing into the post-holiday schedule.

The Hurricanes tangle with the visiting Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night at PNC Arena, something that should heighten the team’s alert level.

For former Chicago player Teuvo Teravainen, that’s no problem.

“We look to the next game,” Teravainen said. “We need two points.”

While the Blackhawks have the best record in the Western Conference, they needed a comeback Thursday night in Nashville to snap a three-game losing streak. The 3-2 victory might be the type of outcome that can ignite a spark for the team.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said it helps that the Blackhawks can be a four-line team. That might be extra vital in this game with Carolina because Chicago will be in its third game in four nights, while the Hurricanes will have played only once in the previous week.

There are matters of execution at both ends of the ice that could be more important for the Blackhawks.

“When we are successful (the defense) is part of our offense,” Quenneville said. “The offensive side of the D-side is sometimes overlooked.”

Carolina is coming off Wednesday night’s 3-2 loss in Pittsburgh, which holds the second-most points in the NHL behind Columbus.

There were numerous positive aspects for the Hurricanes, such as putting 46 shots on net. Yet they had only two goals to show for it.

“It’s a race to three (goals) in this league,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said. “We have to find a way to finish some of these chances. … Rusty in execution. Make sure if you’re not going to get on the scoresheet, you can’t give any up.”

The Hurricanes had a few inspiring third periods before the holiday break so it was a reversal of sorts in Pittsburgh when they relinquished a lead.

“We had lots of chances and probably should have won (that game),” forward Elias Lindholm said. “Just keep building. Stay around the net and be hungry.”

Carolina is trying to increase a 10-game point streak in home games. That’s the best stretch at home since a 12-game home winning streak almost eight years ago.

The Hurricanes are without defenseman Justin Faulk, who missed Wednesday’s game with a lower-body injury and his status is described as possibly in limbo for a couple of weeks. Ryan Murphy took his place on the blue line.

“He came in and moved the puck,” Peters said. “I thought he did some good things.”

Carolina, which swept the two-game series from the Blackhawks last season, relies in part on the best penalty killing in the NHL, operating at 90.6 percent.

Quenneville said the Blackhawks must return to the style that worked so well for them early in the season and part of that requires making it difficult for opposing teams to move with the puck.

“We’re better when we’re tough to play against,” Quenneville said.

This is the last game for Chicago before Monday’s outdoor contest at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.