The Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild have enjoyed much success this season.
The teams will meet Tuesday night in Saint Paul, Minn., aiming to avoid downward swings.
Both teams have 19 wins, making them among the top teams in the NHL, so neither is used to needing a bounce-back performance. It will be the third game in four nights for both teams, who’ve been out west on respective road trips.
“Our group will be ready for sure,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “Our group, we’re getting healthy. We’re getting our four lines going here.”
The Wild have lost two in a row following a 4-0 start to December that came as part of an eight-game winning streak.
“We can’t get frustrated,” Wild left winger Marcus Foligno said. “We can’t turn back on each other now. We’ve been playing great hockey. We just got to stay with it and understand that good teams get back on track right way when things look like they’re going in the opposite direction.”
The Hurricanes fell 2-1 on Sunday night at Vancouver, but they will be receiving roster additions for their next game.
“It’s the same for everybody in this league,” Hurricanes center Martin Necas said of the grueling stretch. “We all know how it feels. We just have to follow through.”
The Hurricanes played Sunday without Sebastian Aho, who had five goals in the previous three games and leads the team in goals (15) and assists (17). The center was out because of illness, missing a game for the first time this season.
“I found out at game time that he just didn’t feel right (and he stayed at the hotel),” coach Rod Brind’Amour said, unable to reveal if his availability in the future might be impacted.
Roster issues have been numerous for Carolina.
The good news should be the return of defensemen Tony DeAngelo and Brett Pesce, who’ve been in COVID-19 protocol. They were released from quarantine last week but weren’t permitted to rejoin the team because of Canada’s regulations regarding a longer period before traveling to the country after a positive test.
Carolina played its last four games in Canada. Brind’Amour said he expects to have DeAngelo and Pesce, both core members of the team’s blue line, in the lineup Tuesday night.
“They’ve been sitting around a long time (and) healthy,” Brind’Amour said. “The rust is going to be there obviously.”
The Wild are back home after going 2-2-0 on a four-game trip. Converting on power plays will come in time, Evason said.
“It’s trending in the right direction,” he said. “We had some nice looks.”
Foligno has already matched his career-high mark with 13 goals.
“I know it’s not about goal-scoring (with) my game,” he said. “It’s always nice to contribute.”
For the Hurricanes, Brind’Amour said he has concerns with all the travel and the lack of practice time.
This wraps up a five-game road trip for the Hurricanes, who are 3-1-0 so far. They went 4-1-1 on a road swing last month that also included mostly Western Conference teams.
–Field Level Media