Injuries prompt lineup shuffling

The Hurricanes have cut back again on some of the strenuous parts of practice at just about the time they’re getting some players healthy again.

“The games have been hard,” coach Kirk Muller said, pointing out that “just to get a rest” was one of the objectives leading to a busy part of the schedule.

The Hurricanes had right wing Chad LaRose and goalie Brian Boucher back in uniform for Saturday night’s 4-3 overtime loss to the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

Now it’s a matter of some shuffling of lines and responsibilities. The Hurricanes are still waiting for defenseman Joni Pitkanen to come back, while right wing Patrick Dwyer might be close to getting back after a weekend practice workout.

Figuring out how to implement Boucher into the lineup could be tricky, but Muller said there’s a chance he could play with some games on back-to-back nights coming up. The Hurricanes begin a five-game road swing Tuesday night at Washington.

NOTES, QUOTES

-The Hurricanes sent goalie Justin Peters back to the minor leagues in order to activate goalie Brian Boucher, who has been out for almost three months with a lower-body injury. It was expected that Boucher might be sent on a conditioning assignment, but shipping Peters out actually might be an indication that the Hurricanes want to keep him active with game assignments. Sitting as Cam Ward’s backup won’t do that for Peters, who put together a string of solid outings during his recent call-up.

-The Hurricanes have scored first in eight of their last 11 games. Until losing in regulation Thursday night to the New York Rangers, the Hurricanes had a string of points in 15 consecutive games (9-0-6) when scoring first. Even though they didn’t score first Saturday night, the Hurricanes led Tampa Bay 3-1 late in the second period so they felt as if they let a team point get away again with the overtime loss.

ROSTER REPORT

-RW Patrick Dwyer appears to be out a couple of weeks with a lower-body injury. His speed and his steady performances on the checking line have been significant assets for a player often underappreciated.

-G Brian Boucher was activated for a game for the first time in nearly three months when he served as G Cam Ward’s backup Saturday night. Boucher’s lower-body injury was sustained in a Dec. 5 practice.

-RW Anthony Stewart was back on the fourth line temporarily at the start of Saturday night’s game after spending a game on the top line. He tends to bounce around. The latest move came with RW Chad LaRose returning to the lineup from an injury, and it came with the disclaimer from coach Kirk Muller that he had no problem with Stewart’s performance while on the first line. By game’s end, Stewart was spending time on the top line again.

-RW Patrick Dwyer (lower body) could be out for a couple of weeks after suffering an injury Feb. 25.

-RW Tuomo Ruutu (upper body) was injured Feb. 13 in the first period at Montreal. He could miss three weeks of game action.

-D Joni Pitkanen (concussion) was injured Dec. 6 against Calgary and has missed every game since then. He underwent knee surgery Jan. 3. The new target date for his return is mid-March.

QUOTE TO NOTE

“You’re not going to score every power play.” — C Tim Brent, on the Hurricanes’ improvement in man-advantage situations. The Hurricanes scored a power-play goal in six consecutive home games until going 0-for-2 on power plays Saturday night against Tampa Bay.