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Gameday: Hurricanes at Blue Jackets

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio!

This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information you need to know for tonight's Metropolitan Division match-up between the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets. Make Hurricanes.com a regular stop throughout the day, as we update this hub with notes, photos and more as puck drop draws near.

The Canes will hold an 11:30 a.m. morning skate at Nationwide Arena, where we'll be rinkside to bring you the latest.

Last updated: 5:15 p.m.


BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA TOOLS TO VICTORY
5:15 p.m.

TV's Mike Maniscalco lays out tonight's battle plan with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three Tools to Victory.

1. Match Intensity

Columbus is coming off of two losses and should be a salty group to play against. The Blue Jackets will try to get off to a big start using speed and physical play. The Hurricanes need set the tone of the game from the opening faceoff.

2. Win Special Teams

Both teams are trying to find their identities in man-advantage situations. The team that comes ahead in that match-up should come away with two points.

3. Roll Four Lines

The Hurricanes have shown all season they are a better team when all 12 forwards are involved in the game.


PESCE SET TO RETURN
3:15 p.m.

Defenseman Brett Pesce will return to the Carolina Hurricanes' lineup tonight after missing the team's last three games with a concussion he sustained in practice on Oct. 31.

"It was rather difficult, I'd say. That was the first concussion I've had. The doctors do a great job here. They're very protective and make sure I'm completely 100 percent, which is honestly awesome for me in the long run," Pesce said after the team's morning skate. "Staying in shape, especially when the team is on the road, is a tough thing. I try to talk to our strength coach Billy B. every day and keep him updated. He got me into the shape I am still, and I feel good."

It was a freak play in practice. A shot rode up Pesce's defending stick and caught him in the side of the face. He was helped off the ice and evaluated and a day later, it was announced that he was concussed and in the protocol.

"It caught me in the left part [of my face], kind of in my jaw. I guess I'm kind of thankful it didn't hit me in the teeth because I don't think I'd have any left," Pesce joked. "It was just a freak thing. I'm just glad I'm 100 percent again."

Pesce will reunite with Jaccob Slavin as the team's top defensive pair tonight, as the Canes look to string together back-to-back wins for the first time since mid-October.

"It's exciting. Columbus is a great team, and with the boys coming off a win, it's a huge momentum swing for us," he said. "This is going to be a great test to get over that hump to continue on and maybe get a little win streak going."

Video: Brett Pesce: "Make sure I'm 100 percent"


IN THE ROOM: PETERS
12:30 p.m.

Head coach Bill Peters spoke with the media following his team's morning skate in Columbus, and here are the highlights. Video of the full availability is below.

On tonight's match-up: "Both teams are going to have a chip on their shoulder. ... For the first time in what feels like a long time, we're playing within the Metropolitan Division, so it's an important game for us."

On what has changed since the first meeting between these two teams in October: "That was early in the year, obviously. Now they've got Boone Jenner back in. He's a type of guy who helps. ... We've taken steps as a team. We're getting closer to playing to our identity. In our last two games we've given up one goal through 60 in both. We like that fact, and we'd like to score more. I think both teams are getting better as it goes."

On what Brett Pesce adds to the lineup: "It slots everybody properly, and it gives you a guy with some veteran experience. He'll play with Slavs tonight. He's good at moving the puck, so our transition game should be better, both in D-zone transitions and through the neutral zone."

On what he liked about the Canes' 3-1 win over Florida: "I thought we were real good through 40. I thought we were dangerous. We were doing a real good job being at the net with all four lines. You can see guys getting the understanding that if you're going to score in the National Hockey League, you have to get to the blue paint and take your turn at the net. No different tonight with Bobrovsky."

On the power play: "The confidence that it's going to get better is the fact that it's been better. In our last game it was probably the most dangerous it's been all year. We made a few tweaks to it personnel-wise and a little bit of systems adjustments. We need it to be better. We've played a lot of close games. ... If your power play can be a difference-maker for you, it'd go a long way."

Video: Bill Peters: "Go get their goalie"


CANES LINES: MORNING SKATE
11:35 a.m.

Here's the lineup you can expect to see tonight when the Hurricanes face off with the Blue Jackets, the first half of their second of 18 back-to-back sets this season.

Aho-Staal-Teravainen
McGinn-Rask-Williams
Skinner-Ryan-Lindholm
Nordstrom-Kruger-Jooris

Slavin-Pesce
Fleury-Faulk
Hanifin-van Riemsdyk

Ward
Darling

Tweet from @MSmithCanes: Chilly fall morning in Columbus. #CARvsCBJ pic.twitter.com/t4t822Hln7


CANES FACE BLUE JACKETS IN DIVISIONAL MATCH-UP
12:00 a.m.

The 2017-18 regular season is a month old, but the Carolina Hurricanes will be playing just their second divisional match on Friday night when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets.

And, as it so happens, their first divisional tilt was also against the Blue Jackets in the second game of the season at PNC Arena.

The Hurricanes dropped that game 2-1 in overtime. Now, after snapping a four-game winless streak with a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, they'll be looking to string together consecutive victories for the first time since mid-October.

"We've got to find a way to score, be a little more efficient offensively and get our power play going," head coach Bill Peters said after practice in Raleigh on Thursday. "When we do that, we'll be dangerous each and every night."

The Blue Jackets come into tonight's game winless in their last three (0-2-1), having dropped a 5-3 decision to the Rangers and a 3-1 decision to the Predators on back-to-back nights earlier this week. At 9-6-1 (19 points), Columbus occupies third place in the Metropolitan Division.

"They're going to play real similar to how they played in our building," Peters said. "Two teams in the same division that need points."

The Hurricanes' lineup will be bolstered by the return of defenseman Brett Pesce. He's missed the team's last three games with a concussion. Based on lines in practice, he'll slot back in with Jaccob Slavin, restoring one of the league's top defensive pairs.

The Canes will also have the services of Lee Stempniak in the near future. Stempniak, who has been sidelined since training camp with an upper-body injury, was assigned to Charlotte on Thursday for a conditioning stint.

"He's going to go down and play," Peters said. "He's going to get in a couple games this week, get in game shape and get some timing back. That will be real good for him."

CANESPR NOTES: The Hurricanes have earned at least a point in 13 of their last 16 games against Columbus with a 10-3-3 record in that stretch. … Friday's game against Columbus and Saturday's match against Chicago at home marks the second of 18 back-to-back sets for the Canes this season. The team split the first with a 1-1-0 record.


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