Hurricanes-Flames Preview

The Carolina Hurricanes had to be feeling a bit confident with a

win over one of the best teams in the Western Conference prior to

embarking on a four-game trip against the conference.

The Hurricanes, however, have dropped the first two on the swing

and will try to end a four-game losing streak in Calgary on

Thursday night when they take on the Flames, who dismissed general

manager Paul Feaster earlier in the day.

Carolina (13-13-6) had been 3-6-7 against the West before a 5-3

win over San Jose last Thursday, but the Hurricanes followed that

with losses at Vancouver and Edmonton.

They haven’t faced the Flames since Dec. 6, 2011, and the two

last met in Calgary in January of that year. Since moving to

Carolina prior to the 1997-98 season, the Hurricanes have gone

2-5-1 there.

Carolina rallied Tuesday, scoring three consecutive goals to

push the Oilers into overtime before a penalty cost them in the

extra session. Justin Faulk was sent to the box for boarding 19

seconds into OT, and Jordan Eberle scored the winner 89 seconds

later.

“We’re a pretty resilient team,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller

said. “We have to look at the positives, we got a point. We got

outplayed in the first, and came back in the second. We had a

really good second and third. We got a really big point and

possibly could have had two.”

The team has lost only once in regulation this season when it

allows two or fewer goals, but is just 3-12-5 when opponents score

three or more. Offense has been an issue this season for Carolina,

which ranks near the bottom of the league with 74 goals.

Getting Alexander Semin back should provide a boost. The

Hurricanes activated the winger Thursday and he’s expected to play

for the first time since suffering a concussion Nov. 16 at St.

Louis.

At the time of his injury, he shared the team lead with six

assists and was tied for second with nine points.

Fellow winger Jeff Skinner continued his strong play Tuesday.

After being named the NHL’s first star of the week Monday, Skinner

had a goal and assist in Edmonton.

He should have a good chance to keep it going against Calgary

(11-15-4), one of the worst defensive teams in the conference with

100 goals allowed. However, the Flames have been better in their

own end lately, surrendering eight goals in the past five

games.

Karri Ramo, who started in goal for the first three games of

that streak but gave way to Reto Berra in the last two, will likely

start against Carolina.

“We have two goalies that can give us good minutes,” coach Bob

Hartley told the team’s official web site. “On top of playing those

guys to allow us to win, I’m trying to find out if the two of them

can carry the load as No. 1 goalies in the NHL or if one of them is

a better No. 1 and the best way to know this is to put them in key

situations.”

Calgary had won three of four prior to a 2-1 home loss to Boston

on Tuesday. Berra stopped 22 shots for the Flames.

That proved to be the final game of Feaster’s tenure. Calgary

did not make the playoffs under Feaster, who became acting GM

midway through the 2010-11 season.

Brian Burke, the team’s president of hockey operations, will

serve as acting general manager. He said the moves were needed to

get the franchise back on track toward a championship.

”I wouldn’t have come (to Calgary) if that wasn’t the ultimate

goal,” he said. ”I have to look at the steps that have been taken

and figure out what’s the best way for us to get on that path. And

I reached the conclusion that we needed to make this change.”

The Flames will likely see the return of T.J. Galiardi, who has

been out since Nov. 20 because of back spasms. Galiardi has just

one goal and five assists on the season, but his presence gives the

team some much-needed depth, especially with two of its top scorers

– Sean Monahan (foot) and Curtis Glencross (knee) – out with

injuries.

“I just was able to get myself back healthy and fresh and press

the reset button and now I’m ready,” Galiardi said.

After this contest, the Flames will leave on a five-game trip

against East opponents, while the Hurricanes close their swing in

Phoenix on Saturday.