OTTAWA - The Carolina Hurricanes end their season-long, five-game road trip against the Ottawa Senators.
Even after a 3-2 loss in New Jersey on Sunday afternoon, the Hurricanes have a chance to capture eight out of a possible 10 points on this trip.
Capping the Trip
Assessed in a vacuum, the Hurricanes' 3-2 loss to the Devils on Sunday is huge; the Hurricanes, who could have jumped their way into a playoff spot, needed the win, and the Devils didn't.
But in taking a broader view at the road trip, the Hurricanes still have the opportunity to take home eight of a possible 10 points, and they've already beaten two teams they directly competing with for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The loss wasn't ideal, sure, but it's not the end of the season.
But the reaction to it says a lot about how far this Hurricanes team has come in 56 games.
"We expect more now, and I love it," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said after practice on Monday. "I love the fact that the bar has been raised. We expect to win every night. That's something that is, I think, a real positive and is a testament to the guys in the room. They've earned that level of expectation from me. We're a good team."
The Hurricanes had a bad period in New Jersey - a flat first period in which they fell down 2-0 and failed to convert on three power play opportunities - and it cost them.
The Canes got back on the ice in practice on Monday, their first skate as a team in something other than a game in a week.
"It's always good to practice," Brind'Amour said. "We practice for a purpose. We try to get at least one thing accomplished and get better at."
On Monday in Ottawa, it was brushing up on some systems to ensure mistakes weren't replicated.
"Working on the details," Brind'Amour said. "We got away from one that cost us a goal. Just making sure our routes are right and being mentally sharp."
The Last Meeting
The Hurricanes dropped a 4-1 decision to the Senators at home on Jan. 18, one of the team's three regulation losses in the first month of 2019. For whatever reason, it was one of the Canes' most lackluster efforts of the season.
"It's hard to watch and be a part of it when we know how we can play. We can beat good teams, and then we come off it and we don't like a very good team," Jordan Martinook said after the game. "Tonight, we didn't look very good for most of that game. We deserved to lose. They were the better team."
"We were so bad, I almost dressed and got out there. I might have been as good as what we were throwing out there. We just didn't want to play the way we were supposed to. I didn't know what I was watching. That's the first time all year I can say that," Brind'Amour said. "You're going to lose games, but that was obvious we were going to lose that one just by the way we were playing."
The Senators dropped five straight games after that last meeting, but they've since won two in a row at home, shutting out the Anaheim Ducks, 4-0, and besting the Winnipeg Jets, 5-2. Despite ranking last in the Eastern Conference with a 21-29-5 record and 47 points, the Senators own a 14-11-4 record at home.
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS KEYS TO THE GAME
1. No Shifts Off
The Hurricanes didn't have their best in the first period in New Jersey, and it cost them. The team can't afford to take any shifts off, especially against an Ottawa team that has some offensive weapons.
2. Attention to Detail
The Hurricanes looked at some of the finer points of their system in practice on Monday. Attention to detail matters, and the Canes have to ensure they're doing the little things right.
3. Finish Strong
The Hurricanes have a chance to finish this road trip with eight of a possible 10 points. Finish strong and take some momentum back to Raleigh.
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