Devils, Hurricanes seek positive momentum
RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes want their record to better reflect their performance and that will take winning more games.
The next chance comes against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday at PNC Arena.
The health of the Devils is worth watching for this game as the matchup comes on the tail end of games on back-to-back days.
Both teams need a pick-me-up.
The Devils had a two-game winning streak snapped with Saturday's overtime loss to visiting Detroit. The Hurricanes are 2-5-2 in a recent games, including a 4-1 home loss Saturday night to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"We didn't have the desperation," Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said.
It's one of the few times that the Carolina coach has expressed disappointment on the effort side.
"I think our record doesn't indicate how well we've played," Brind'Amour said of the season in general. "We probably deserved a few more wins there. But we've got to find a way to get those wins. There's still another level to get to."
The Hurricanes have fallen into holes and had strong starts. There's not a real trend there.
"We've shown we can come back too," Brind'Amour said, acknowledging that assessing personnel is ongoing in some areas. "We've got some real pleasant surprises that we didn't think would be in the mix that have done really well."
The Hurricanes a good dose of shots on net, but they might not be quality opportunities. Those situations also have led to frustrations.
"When you don't score when you have created a lot of chances, then you press," Brind'Amour said. "Then it opens up the other way, that's when you get into trouble."
The Devils have put together some good periods and that's encouraging for a team that has dealt with some lineup adjustments involving key players.
"I think we're playing with better structure than we were," New Jersey coach John Hynes said.
Devils center Nico Hischier is considered day to day with an upper-body injury, and defenseman Sami Vatanen went on injured reserve Saturday with a lower-body injury.
"There's a possibility (Hischier could play in Raleigh)," Hynes said. " ... He has made very good progress, but now any player in that situation is how can he play when he's in battles, competitive battles and things like that."
Hischier had nine assists for the second most on the team before he sustained the injury last Sunday.
As a rookie last season, Hischier produced four points across four games against the Hurricanes.
Without Vatanen, whose absence Saturday marked the first game he missed this season, the Devils have to compensate in other ways.
"When you lose a guy like Sami, particularly on 'D,' you have to have a collective response by your 'D' core," Hynes said. "You're not going to have one guy to pick up the minutes he plays."
The Hurricanes, who are halfway through a six-game homestand, had four days off before this weekend of back-to-back games. Goalie Scott Darling has worked in the last three games, but after a rather ragged outing Saturday night, it's likely they'll go in a different direction for the game against New Jersey.
Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid played Saturday against Detroit. He was used in all four 2017-18 meetings with the Hurricanes when the Devils posted a 3-1-0 mark.
This is the first of four meetings between the teams this season, though the Devils won't return to Carolina until April.
Updated November 17, 2018