Hurricanes, Stars both desperately need win (Feb 11, 2017)
DALLAS -- The Carolina Hurricanes and Dallas Stars both need two points from their Saturday afternoon game at American Airlines Center, but for entirely different reasons.
Carolina (24-21-7) will have a five-day break after playing in Dallas, resuming action Feb. 17 against Colorado at PNC Arena.
And hitting this break with a win is imperative for the Hurricanes, who are 7-15-6 on the road but 9-5-3 against the Western Conference and 4-1-1 against the Central Division.
"One more game, we need a huge win here," Carolina forward Tuevo Teravainen said after practice Thursday. "Then we get a little break. It's good for everybody, good for our minds. We need to win this game so it's more fun to go to break."
The Hurricanes and Stars have yet to meet this season, but the Stars took both meetings last season, including a 6-5 win in Dallas on Nov. 6, 2015.
However, Carolina coach Bill Peters isn't concerned with his club's history against Dallas. Instead, he's focused on extending the Stars' losing streak to five games.
"We have a chance to go 4-1 in the five-game segment. If we can gather six, seven, eight points every five-game segment, we're going to give ourselves a chance," Peters said.
Peters said after practice on Friday that defenseman Matt Tennyson would play against Dallas and that he would be paired alongside Noah Hanifin.
Once the Hurricanes return from their break, they will begin a five-game homestand against the Avalanche.
Peters is naturally first focused on beating Dallas on the road, but the Hurricanes coach also has the break in the back of his mind.
"We got to use those five days wisely. You got to do more than just sit on the beach and the guys know that," Peters said. "They did a good job looking after themselves in the All-Star break with coming back and rattled off three. We got to look after ourselves and be ready to play."
The Hurricanes could get a huge boost during their upcoming homestand from the potential return of veteran forward Bryan Bickell, a member of three Stanley Cup championship teams in Chicago, who hasn't played since October 30 due to Multiple Sclerosis.
"He's not going to come to Dallas. He's got a treatment scheduled and then we'll go from there," Peters said of Bickell.
Dallas (21-24-10) did not practice Friday after losing 3-2 at Ottawa on Thursday night, a loss that both perplexed and frustrated Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
"Yeah, I think we've picked almost every way of losing so far, including shooting one in your own net, so it is frustrating," Ruff said postgame in Ottawa.
That play Ruff refers to came in the first period when veteran forward Jiri Hudler scored an own goal to give the Senators a 2-0 edge after 20 minutes of play. Hudler flipped the puck from the neutral zone into the Dallas zone thinking that at least one defenseman was back there to retrieve it.
However, Hudler's attempt instead split two defensemen and ended up in the back of the Dallas net.
"We obviously make a mistake on the play," Ruff said. "I've seen that a couple times. It's been a long time since I've seen it, but we made a bad decision there and it hurt us."
In many ways, that play summed up what has been a frustrating and disappointing season for a team that not only led the NHL in goals last season, but one that also finished last season as the top seed in the West.
The Stars are 14-9-6 on home ice but have struggled against East teams, with a 5-10-4 record. Dallas is also just 2-5-3 against the Metropolitan Division.
Dallas dropped both games of its recent two-game road trip, also falling 3-1 at Toronto on Tuesday. And with 27 games remaining, the Stars are now eight points behind Los Angeles, who currently holds the second and final wild-card playoff spot in the West.
And despite their 3-5-2 record over their past 10 games, Hudler for one isn't ready to give up on the Stars' chances of rallying to make the postseason.
"There's a lot of hockey left. Let's win the next one and go from there," Hudler said.