The start of the new year gave Carolina a chance to move past a disappointing end to 2014, and the Hurricanes have responded with one of their better stretches of the season.
Jordan Staal’s return appears to have helped spark that run.
Carolina looks to win for the fifth time in seven games and avoid a fourth straight loss to the visiting Vancouver Canucks on Friday night.
The Hurricanes (14-24-5) sit at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division and finished last year with three consecutive losses, but they improved to 4-1-1 this month with a 3-2 shootout win over Colorado on Tuesday.
Staal has played in the last eight contests after recovering from a broken leg suffered in the preseason, and he scored his first goal of the season in the first period.
"It was important for Jordan to get that first (goal), but he’s had good looks every night," coach Bill Peters said. "His line was dominant early."
Staal, who also has three assists since making his season debut, was happy to get the monkey off his back as well.
"It’s nice to get the goose egg out of the way. It’s been happening for a few games. I’ve had some good chances," he said. "We’re just starting to get a little more comfortable with the way we’re playing. There were a lot of good chances to score goals, and hopefully if we keep playing like that, we can get on a roll."
Carolina’s recent success is due in part to its stellar penalty kill, which hasn’t allowed a goal in a franchise-record 11 straight games. Opponents have gone 0 for 28 with the man advantage in that stretch. The Hurricanes have allowed just 15 power-play goals all season – the second-fewest in the league behind Chicago (13).
"Real good consistency there," Peters said. "Those guys have taken a lot of pride in it. (Assistant coach Steve Smith) has done a good job preparing them and making adjustments as needed. … They’ve been outstanding for us."
The Hurricanes couldn’t get much going in the first meeting with Vancouver, which got two goals from Brad Richardson in a 4-1 victory Oct. 28.
Goals had been hard to come by lately for the Canucks (24-15-3), who were outscored 9-2 during a three-game skid before breaking out Thursday for a 4-0 win over Philadelphia in the second stop on a five-game trip.
Henrik Sedin had a goal and an assist, while brother Daniel assisted on power-play goals from Henrik and Radim Vrbata. Vancouver went 2 for 3 with the man advantage after going 0 for 10 over its previous four.
"We needed to get back in the win column," said Jannik Hansen, who also scored. "If you lose one or two in a row, that’s not good. Three, that’s starting trouble. We needed to get back on the winning track to keep up with the other teams."
Ryan Miller, who beat Carolina in the first meeting, made 29 saves against the Flyers, meaning Eddie Lack could get the nod in this contest. Lack is 3-6-2 with a 2.80 goals-against average in eight starts, the most recent a 5-1 loss to Nashville on Tuesday.
Cam Ward could be in net for Carolina after Anton Khudobin made 28 saves against Colorado. Ward stopped 21 shots in the first meeting with the Canucks.