The Carolina Hurricanes open a season-long, eight-game homestand with a two-game series against the Dallas Stars.
Dallas Stars (12-12-10, 34 points) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (24-8-3, 51 points)
Saturday, April 3, 7 p.m.
Watch: Bally Sports South, FOX Sports GO
Listen: 99.9 FM The Fan, Hurricanes.com/Listen, Hurricanes app
Tracking the Storylines
Home Cooking: Of the Canes' remaining 21 games in the regular season, 13 will be played at PNC Arena, beginning with the team's longest homestand of the season that will see the Canes play eight straight games at home over a 15-day stretch. The Canes are 11-1-3 at home this season, a points percentage of .833 that ranks second in the NHL.
"It's great, I'll be honest with you. This year feels really weird. It feels like we've had a lot of road time," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said on Friday. "It's all about getting ready, but it's nice not being in hotels and stuff to refresh that way."
Managing the Load: With Thursday's game in Chicago, the Canes kicked off the final month-and-a-half of the regular season, during which the team is scheduled to play 22 games in 40 days, or one game every 1.82 days. It's going to be a grueling stretch run of the season, with the Canes still eyeing a first-place finish in the Central Division.
"We haven't practiced very much. We've had a lot of meetings virtually. That's our practice," Brind'Amour said. "It's not physically as demanding as people think. It's the mental stuff to get ready to play a game, a lot of mental energy that has to go in it. When you're at the rink every day grinding, that takes a toll. That's the stuff you have to manage."
Last five games: 2-1-2, 6 points
On the road: 5-6-3, 13 points
CAR vs. DAL: 4-0-0
Leading scorer: Joe Pavelski, 34 points (15g, 19a) in 34 games
Though they sit in seventh place in the Central Division, the Stars are only five points out of a playoff spot - and they have four games in hand. Those games in hand only mean something if the Stars win them, of course, but it's not inconceivable to imagine last year's Western Conference champions making a late push for the postseason. The Stars earned three of a possible four points in Nashville, the beginning of a six-game road trip that ends in Chicago next week.
The Last Meeting
The Canes earned their fourth win in as many games against the Stars this season with a 4-3 shootout decision in Dallas on Feb. 13. Though the Stars erased a 3-1 deficit in the third period to force extra hockey, the Canes recovered in the shootout, as Alex Nedeljkovic stopped all three shooters he faced, and Vincent Trocheck netted the deciding goal.
Video: Hurricanes hold of Stars late comeback attempt
"You look at the skill on our team. It translates pretty good to overtime and the shootout. You ask any guy in our room, and we want to finish it before that," said Jordan Martinook, whose late goal in the second period tied the game at one. "It's definitely nice to get that extra point. It's nice to have the skilled guys go out there and do their thing."
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