COLUMBUS - Mentally preparing myself now for the cannon.
This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight's Metropolitan Division showdown between the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets in one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, photos and more as puck drop draws near.
The Hurricanes will be on the ice at Nationwide Arena for an 11:30 a.m. morning skate, and we'll be rinkside to bring you the latest.
Last updated: 4:20 p.m.
BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA TOOLS TO VICTORY
Mike Maniscalco details tonight's Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three Tools to Victory.
1. Production Lines
There isn't one line the Hurricanes have to rely on to score. All four have been chipping in and will need to do that against a team that does the same. People want to number lines, but the Canes are at their best when you have to argue which line is the top line.
2. Silence the Cannon
The Hurricanes can get away with it at home, but falling behind on the road is hard to overcome, especially against a team that has scored 79 goals at home.
3. Possess the Puck
The best way to not deal with the waves that Columbus can throw at the Canes is by holding on to the puck and no giveaways, especially in the neutral zone where the Jackets create transition chances.
FREEZE FRAMES: MORNING SKATE
LINEUP NOTES AND PETERS QUOTES
Defenseman Ron Hainsey will be a game-time decision, according to head coach Bill Peters.
"He wasn't good to go this morning, but we're hoping he's able to go," Peters said. "We'll know at warm-up and make a decision after."
If Hainsey can't go tonight, Peters said Klas Dahlbeck would be inserted into the lineup. Dahlbeck took line rushes with Justin Faulk this morning, but that wouldn't necessarily be the pairing you'd see tonight.
"We'll shuffle the pairs up a little bit, but we'll deal with that once we have a little more information on Ronnie," Peters said.
Here's more from the head coach.
On the team's road record: "We've played real well on the road. We haven't gotten some wins early in the year when we had some games get away from us. I don't mind the way we play at home or on the road. Now we just have to start accumulating wins on the road."
On the Canes' top-ranked PK against the Blue Jackets' top-ranked PP: "Huge key. You look back to our game a week ago, and we took four penalties, three in the offensive zone. We'd like to clean that up a little bit. If they do get a power play, it's got to be that we had to take a penalty to deny a scoring chance."
On the Canes' prolific second periods as of late: "That's a hard one to put a finger on. We've generated offense consistently, but we've given up too much, too. In that homestand I think we fell behind in all four games, and that's not a recipe for long-term success. We want to continue to generate offense throughout the game, and we know we have to tighten up. We can't rely on scoring four, five, six, seven every night. You've got to be mentally and physically prepared to win a 3-2, 2-1 type game."
On generating offense: "It's good to see all four lines generating offense on a consistent basis. It's good to see the D involved and up in the rush. ... I like the evolution of us offensively."
CANES LINES: MORNING SKATE
There weren't many surprises at today's morning skate, as the lineup will remain consistent. One item of note: Ron Hainsey was not present, so Klas Dahlbeck skated in his usual spot alongside Justin Faulk. We'll get word on him from head coach Bill Peters shortly.
Alex Nedeljkovic, recalled yesterday evening, joined the morning skate. Eddie Lack (concussion) also made the trip and got some on-ice work in today.
CANES TAKE WINNING STREAK TO COLUMBUS
The Carolina Hurricanes are taking their four-game winning streak on the road to Columbus, where they will face off with the Blue Jackets twice this week.
Tonight's game marks the second meeting between the two Metropolitan Division opponents in a week, and the two teams will square off again on Saturday for the third time in a span of 12 days.
Last Tuesday, the Hurricanes topped the Blue Jackets, who were then leading the league in points, by a 5-3 margin. With the game even at three heading in to the third period, the Hurricanes took a one-goal lead just 3:50 in and added an empty netter late. The Canes would go on to earn all eight of a possible eight points in their four-game homestand, an important week of hockey that brought four Eastern Conference opponents to PNC Arena.
Now, the Hurricanes are in the midst of another important stretch of hockey: five consecutive games against Metropolitan Division foes.
"It's good," head coach Bill Peters said of the schedule. "It's perfect."
"We know how big these next couple games are," said Brock McGinn, who was named the NHL's third star of the week on Monday. "Everybody is going in here right now. We're a confident group. We've just got to continue that."
Punctuated with a 7-4 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday night, the Hurricanes scored 21 goals over the course of their four-game homestand. Eleven of those goals were scored in the second period alone, as the team brought one-goal deficits into the second frame in each game.
"We've given up some of those goals early … so those first three minutes aren't going to define the game if you have good character, dig in and play properly," Peters said. "We've got to play with the same pace. We've got to start a little better. We've been down here recently to start games. We've been overcoming some deficits. We don't want to do that no matter where we play. I think our starts can be better, and we can tighten up away from the puck."
Whereas earlier in this season the team wasn't as comfortable playing in tight games, the Hurricanes now appear confident in any given situation, whether it's trailing after one period or tied heading down the stretch in the third.
"We have more skill in our lineup, so now when we're exchanging chances, we have a chance to score also," Peters said. "We'd still like to limit the quantity and quality of shots."
Columbus is 1-1-0 since facing the Canes last week. The Blue Jackets defeated Tampa Bay 3-1 on Friday before being edged 4-3 by the Panthers on Saturday in South Florida.
"Outstanding goaltending. Special teams are very good. They're very deep. They just roll four lines, and they play with a lot of pace," Peters said of the opponent. "We've got to play fast, go get the goalie and make it hard on him."
CANESPR NOTES: The Hurricanes have earned at least a point in 11 of the last 12 games against Columbus, going 9-1-2 in that stretch. … Two Canes players are point-per-game producers against Columbus: Noah Hanifin (5a in five games) and Victor Rask (4g, 5a in seven games).
CLICKS AND CLIPPINGS