The up-and-down Carolina Hurricanes will try to build a winning streak when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
Carolina is coming off a 6-2 road win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, when the Hurricanes dominated the game and had a 41-23 advantage in shots. The result ended the Hurricanes’ four-game losing streak (0-3-1) that immediately followed an 11-game winning streak.
The team previously had two four-game winning streaks and a five-game losing streak (0-1-4) this season.
Frederik Andersen made his return to the lineup in the Hurricanes’ victory at Columbus. The goalie, who hadn’t played since Nov. 6 while dealing with a lower-body injury, stopped 21 shots.
“He was good, made a couple of nice saves, kept us going in the right direction,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said of Andersen. “He’s steady. That’s what you need, that’s the way he plays. He looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. I give him a lot of credit.
“Listen, we were all a little nervous (about) how it was going to go because he hasn’t played in forever, (but) good for him to bounce back. We needed it.”
Carolina will now try to juggle having three goaltenders. Antti Raanta and Pyotr Kochetkov each steered things well for the Hurricanes during Andersen’s absence, helping Carolina sit on top of the Metropolitan Division.
In the game against the Blue Jackets, the Hurricanes had five of their six goals scored by defensemen. It was just the second time in franchise history that Carolina had five goals come from blue-liners.
With how active the Hurricanes defensemen are in the offense, it felt like something that was coming, according to the coach.
“They’re our bread and butter back there,” Brind’Amour said. “The fact we haven’t had a ton of goals back there is kind of shocking because they’ve had a ton of chances. It was coming. It was nice to see.”
Pittsburgh will try to bounce back after falling 4-1 to the visiting Winnipeg Jets on Friday.
The Penguins were outshot 40-23 in the loss, and aside from a goal by Drew O’Connor, failed to generate much of any offense against Jets backup goalie David Rittich.
And it could have been worse for Pittsburgh. The Jets had two goals overturned in the first period because of reviews and challenges.
“We just weren’t on our game. We just weren’t on our toes,” Penguins forward Jason Zucker said. “We weren’t pressuring them, we weren’t holding onto pucks. … I think we made it an easy game for them tonight.”
Pittsburgh turned to third-string goalie Dustin Tokarski against the Jets, and he stopped 36 shots in his first start of the season. With Tristan Jarry on injured reserve due to a lower-body injury, the Penguins likely will have Casey DeSmith back in net against Carolina in the second half of a back-to-back set.
Of note, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was held without a shot by the Jets. It was just the second time this season Crosby had a zero-shot game.
If there’s a positive sign for Pittsburgh, it’s that Crosby has historically played well against Carolina. In 54 career games against the Hurricanes, Crosby has 20 goals and 40 assists.
Carolina won the first three meetings with Pittsburgh this season: 3-2 in overtime on the road on Nov. 29, 3-2 at home on Dec. 18 and 4-3 in overtime on the road on Dec. 22.
“We got to kind of regroup here and be ready for (Saturday) night,” Zucker said. “It’s a huge game for us. We haven’t had success against Carolina this year, so this is gonna be a big game for us. We need to be ready to come after them.”
–Field Level Media