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Canes Ride Winning Streak Into November

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
Following a two-leg, seven-game road swing, the Carolina Hurricanes made their return to Raleigh. On Friday night, they defeated the visiting Colorado Avalanche 3-2, their second win over Colorado in 10 days, and on Saturday morning, they returned to the ice surface at PNC Arena for their last practice in the month of October.

Here is a smattering of notes about today’s skate plus a look back at the first month of the season and a look ahead to a home-heavy November.

1. The Hurricanes extended their winning streak to three games on Friday night, claiming a 3-2 decision over Colorado. Victor Rask scored his fourth goal of the season to tie the game at one, Justin Faulk’s fourth power-play goal gave the team a one-goal lead and Jeff Skinner scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the third period.

I asked head coach Bill Peters if he could point to the one thing that has made his club successful over the last three games.

“I think we’ve competed at a real consistent level,” he said. “I like the way we dug in in Brooklyn. We dug in down one going into the third and found a way. That to me was a very good sign. [Friday] was a tough back-to-back coming off that long trip. It’s kind of a bit of a trap game sometimes, but I thought our guys battled through it and stayed with it.”

Winning makes for a happy crew. That much was evident in Saturday morning’s practice.

“It just continues to build our confidence. Everyone’s in a good mood, flying out there, happy, zipping the puck around,” defenseman Brett Pesce said. “It’s going to be good for tomorrow, and hopefully we can continue it.”

2. Speaking of Pesce, he played his fourth NHL game on Friday and recorded his first NHL point, the secondary assist on Skinner’s third-period tally.

“It felt great. It’s a stepping stone in the NHL,” Pesce said of the accomplishment. “I’m very proud and excited about it but more excited about the win.”

Pesce has settled in nicely and has seen enhanced ice time in the last two games, logging just over 20 minutes in each. He even saw the ice in 3-on-3 overtime in Brooklyn.

“It was pretty exciting to me,” he said. “I think I was out with the Staals, so I just tried to give them the puck and play some defense.”

Four of the six Canes defensemen who have dressed in the last two games are no older than 23. Pesce is 20. Ron Hainsey and John-Michael Liles, both 34, are the elder statesmen.

“The older guys give me good advice, telling me to take everything in stride and just play my game,” Pesce said. “It’s just hockey. They’ve been a big part in helping me.

“I’m pretty close with Noah (Hanifin) … and I sit next to [Ryan Murphy]. They’re great guys. They’re really nice and have kind of brought me in and made me feel like a part of the team. It’s great.”

Pesce has certainly made himself part of the team, as well, with his play on the ice.

“He’s come in and played real well. He’s formed a good parternship with John-Michael Liles. He’s moved the puck, and he’s had the puck a lot. He’s been good defensively,” Peters said. “He’s come in and seized the opportunity. So has (Brock) McGinn. He’s done a real good job also, and that’s what you want. You want guys, when you bring them up, to be ready and able to contribute instead of just coming up and wearing a sweater.”

3. Elias Lindholm did not practice on Saturday, though he was spotted at the rink. In Friday’s first period, he slid awkwardly into the corner boards and was helped off the ice. He returned for the start of the second period but only played two shifts before heading back to the room.

His status is officially doubtful for Sunday.

“I think he’s going to try it in the morning,” Peters said. “We’re prepared to go with or without him, and we’ll know more tomorrow. But I would say less than a 50 percent chance.”

The Canes don’t play again until Friday, and Peters doesn’t believe the lower-body injury to be serious.

“I think if he misses tomorrow, he’ll be good by the weekend, I hope,” he said.

4. With today’s Halloween practice, October is officially complete for the Canes. They finish the month with a 5-6-0 record and 10 points. After losing the first three games of the season, Carolina won five of their next eight games.

“There’s no question we’ve improved, and we know the areas we want to hit on,” Peters said. “We’ve got some things we’ve got to clean up in our game, and if we do that, we’ll become a very good team.”

Thanksgiving (or, as Canadians call it, “American Thanksgiving”) is a telling mile marker in the marathon of the 82-game regular season, and with the Canes playing nine of their next 11 games at home, it’s a prime opportunity for the team to make some headway in the standings.

“We’ve got ground to make up, right? A big, pivotal time in the season is American Thanksgiving. We’ve got 11 games before that coming up, so I’d like to know where we are then,” Peters said. “I’d like to be in that top eight by American Thanksgiving.”

5. November kicks off with the defending Eastern Conference champions coming to town. Sunday marks the first of two visits the Tampa Bay Lightning will make to PNC Arena, and both times, the Canes are home and waiting for the Lightning, who travel on the latter halves of back-to-back sets. On Saturday night, the Bolts host the Bruins in Tampa Bay.

“Luckily I get to watch them tonight,” Peters said. “They’re a very good team.”

6. Puck drop is slated for 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, so the Hurricanes will not hold a morning skate. As per usual, our Gameday Hub will be active first thing in the morning – that is your one-stop shop for all information as it pertains to the first meeting of the season between the Bolts and Canes.

Michael Smith
MICHAEL SMITH is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.

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