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Preview: Senators vs. Hurricanes

Canes have won seven of their last nine games

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

May the Force be with the Carolina Hurricanes, who host the Ottawa Senators in their final home game of January.

With four games remaining prior to All-Star Weekend, the Hurricanes will look to get back on track after suffering a 6-2 loss to the Rangers in New York on Tuesday. Even still, the Canes come into Friday's game winners of seven of their last nine games.

"They're all so important. Nobody is going to come back to us (in the standings). We're going to have to go get them, which means every game is so important. They all are," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We've been saying that from day one. There's really nothing changing in our mindset."

Do. Or Do Not. There is No Try.

Though the Hurricanes had won seven of their last eight games heading into a Metropolitan Division match-up with the Rangers on Tuesday, it wasn't enough to overcome an apparent Madison Square Garden curse, where the Canes have now gone winless in 16 consecutive games (0-13-3).

Following a scheduled off day on Wednesday, the Canes got back to work at Raleigh Center Ice on Thursday.

"We had a pretty good stretch of games," Brind'Amour said. "With the schedule, we knew [Wednesday] was a day to kind of regroup. We came back today and had a good practice."

Clark Bishop, who has missed the last seven games with a lower-body injury, was a full participant in practice with the Canes.

"I think he's pretty close now," Brind'Amour said. "He may be ready to go tomorrow."

The Force is Strong with This One

The Hurricanes upgraded their top-six group of forwards when they acquired winger Nino Niederreiter from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for center Victor Rask.

PROJECTED LINEUP

Niederreiter has amassed 23 points (9g, 14a) in 46 games with the Wild this season, and he's riding a three-game point streak (2g, 1a). The 26-year-old Swiss scored a career-high 25 goals in the 2016-17 season and is a three-time 20-goal scorer.

Video: Welcome to the Canes, Nino Niederreiter!

"It's a new beginning, a fresh start. I'm looking forward to being a part of the Hurricanes," Niederreiter said in a conference call Thursday evening. "It's a young team with some phenomenal players. I've heard only great things."

Niederreiter figures to be inserted into the top six, where he will add some size and bolster the Canes' goal-scoring abilities.

The Last Meeting

Special teams and a strong third period were the difference in the Hurricanes' 5-4 win over the Senators less than two weeks ago in Ottawa. The Canes scored a power-play goal and a shorthanded goal in the first five minutes of the game, a feat no NHL team had accomplished in 10 years. In the first half of the third period, with the score even at four after a wild, back-and-forth second period, Justin Williams' net-front presence led to the Canes' second power-play goal and the game-winning tally.

The Opposition

The Senators have won three of four games since that meeting with the Canes on Jan. 6. Ottawa topped Colorado, 5-2, at home on Wednesday, as Matt Duchene assembled a three-point performance (2g, 1a) against his former team.


ADVANCE AUTO PARTS KEYS TO THE GAME

1. There is No Try

After a disappointing outing in New York on Tuesday, the Canes need to bounce back at home and get back to playing their game. Even still, they've won seven of their last nine and have a chance to make it eight of 10 before heading out to Western Canada for a three-game road trip.

2. Chewie, We're Home

The Hurricanes have won five straight games at PNC Arena, and they're also 16-0-2 in their last 18 home games against the Senators.

3. Raw, Untamed Power

Special teams play was a letdown in New York and needs to be better tonight against Ottawa. The penalty kill needs to reestablish its dominance, and the power play - now with Nino Niederreiter - needs to find a way to contribute.


AT THE RINK

It's Star Wars Night at PNC Arena, so expect to see a lot of themed in-game elements, including characters, music, games and more. This is always a fun night. You can also purchase Star Wars mystery pucks for $30 each at the Carolina Hurricanes Foundation kiosk.


WORTH A CLICK

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