A season-long, seven-game homestand comes to a close for the Carolina Hurricanes in a weekend back-to-back set against Western Conference opponents, beginning with the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
The Canes are 3-2-0 on the homestand and are coming off a 5-4 overtime win against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Winning in 2020
The Hurricanes tallied in the win column for the first time in the new decade on Tuesday, two points that were much needed, considering the team had lost five of its previous seven games and was facing off against a divisional opponent giving chase in the standings.
The game was weird at times and sloppy at others, but the Canes prevailed in overtime via All-Star Dougie Hamilton's 14th goal of the season.
"It's big. We know how close the standings are," he said after the game. "We know how important these points are at this point in the season."
Bombs from the Blue
In addition to Hamilton, both Jake Gardiner and Joel Edmundson scored against Philadelphia with clappers from the point. Hurricanes defensemen have combined to score 31 goals this season, which ranks tied for first in the NHL.
Last season, blue-liners accounted for a league-high 48 goals for the Canes.
Justin Williams is back with the Hurricanes after signing a one-year contract for the remainder of the season. Williams returned to practice on Thursday.
"It's kind of like, have you ever not driven a car for a long time? And then you get behind the wheel and you're like, 'Uh, it feels a little foreign'? I know how to play the game, but you're just getting back into it and being like, 'All right. I feel a little more comfortable,'" he said. "As the practices go on and the days go on, I'll feel more comfortable and be able to drive the speed limit."
Don't expect to see Williams in the lineup this weekend, though. That will come in time.
"He looked good, but we've got to make sure we give him enough time to get up to speed," Brind'Amour said. "We're taking it really slow here to make sure it's the right time. We've got to get his game there first."
The Coyotes' three-game East Coast road swing ends in Raleigh. After topping the Florida Panthers, 5-2, on Tuesday, the Yotes ran into the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday and were blanked, 4-0. Still, a 25-17-4 record and 54 points in 46 games is good for second place in the Pacific Division.
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