The Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets have been two of the NHL’s best teams this month.
Carolina’s balanced success might be more sustainable, however, while the Jets’ offensive issues could be finally catching up with them.
The Hurricanes look for their sixth win in seven games Thursday night when they host Winnipeg.
Carolina (5-6-3) leads the league with 11 points this month while the Jets (8-6-2) are tied for fourth with nine. The Hurricanes are averaging 3.3 goals during a 5-0-1 stretch and have outscored opponents 13-5 during a four-game home winning streak. They averaged 1.9 goals during their franchise-worst 0-6-2 start, including a 3-1 result in Winnipeg on Oct. 21.
"We’re trying to form an identity, and we’re doing things I like," coach Bill Peters told the team’s official website. "A lot of positive things."
Justin Faulk has eight points over the last six games after recording a goal and two assists in Monday’s 4-1 home win over Calgary.
Carolina outshot the Flames 26-15 over the final two periods after being outshot 8-5 in the first 20 minutes. The Hurricanes are minus-14 in first-period shots overall compared to a plus-27 margin in the other two periods.
Cam Ward stopped 22 shots and owns a 1.38 goals-against average while winning five straight starts. He gave up 3.95 goals per game during a four-game skid previously.
"The guys are doing a great job of letting me see the puck and make that first save. I’m trying to control my rebounds so there is less chaos in front of the net," said Ward, who is halfway to last season’s win total in one-third as many starts. "I’m just having fun, really. I’ve been a lot more relaxed, and I find when I’m relaxed, I’m seeing the game a lot better."
Ward has struggled in his last six meetings with Winnipeg, however, posting a 3.26 GAA.
The Jets (8-6-2) took a 3-0 loss Tuesday at Montreal, their first regulation defeat since Oct. 24 after going 5-0-2. Winnipeg outshot the Canadiens 29-27 for its sixth loss in which it outshot the opponent.
"One post, two posts, missed an empty net," coach Paul Maurice said. "It was just the general theme that we’ve been working on."
The Jets rank second-to-last with 1.8 goals per game and have been shut out four times, trailing only Buffalo in both respects. Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson often bailed out the offense during the team’s 5-0-2 run, combining for an NHL-best 1.25 goals-against average from Oct. 26-Nov. 8.
Winnipeg was blanked only three times last season.
Bryan Little, who has two points in his last seven games after recording nine in his first nine, has a goal and four assists in his last four meetings with Carolina. Andrew Ladd has four goals and five assists in his last eight matchups with the Hurricanes, with whom he spent his first 2 1/2 seasons after being selected fourth overall in the 2004 draft.
Ondrej Pavelec is 5-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA in his last six starts against the Hurricanes and stopped 21 shots in last month’s victory, the Jets’ sixth in eight meetings.
Carolina has scored a power-play goal in five of its last six games while Winnipeg has given up one goal on 22 penalty kills over its last seven.