The Carolina Hurricanes open a season-long, seven-game homestand when they host the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.
The Canes look to snap a three-game losing skid after being bested by the New York Rangers, 5-3, in their return from the three-day holiday break.
Home Sweet Home
After traveling for the better part of the month, the Hurricanes are coming home for a while.
Over the next two weeks, the Canes will play seven consecutive games inside the friendly confines of PNC Arena, where the team has amassed a 10-6-0 record this season. After two quick trips to divisional cities in the middle of January, the Canes will then play three more games at home before resting for All-Star Weekend and the bye week and then playing another pair of home games.
In total, the Canes will play 12 of their next 14 games in Raleigh.
"We want to start it right and go from there," Sebastian Aho said on Friday night.
Time for some home cooking.
Bounce Back Like a Tennis Ball
After attaining nine of a possible 10 points (4-0-1) on a five-game road trip, the Hurricanes have dropped three straight games and allowed four or more goals in each of those contests.
Though the Canes struck first at Madison Square Garden on Friday, the Rangers scored four straight goals in about 17 minutes of game time to take a commanding lead. The Canes mounted a comeback and got within a goal in the third period, but that's as close as they would come.
"We worked hard, but we gave them too many easy goals," said Aho, who scored his 22nd goal of the season on Friday. "The game was right there. We played it well enough and had a lot of scoring chances. The system works, obviously. When we have a chance, we have to be a little bit sharper."
The Canes' opportunity to bounce back comes against the best team in the league, the Capitals first regular-season visit to Raleigh since Game 6 of an emotional first round playoff series between the two teams.
The Last Meeting
The Hurricanes spoiled the Capitals' 2019-20 home opener with a 3-2 overtime win in D.C. on Oct. 5. Erik Haula and Jaccob Slavin scored in the first 10 minutes of the third period to erase a 2-0 deficit, and Jake Gardiner netted his first with the Canes with 56 seconds left in overtime to snag the extra point.
Video: Gardiner's OT goal lifts Hurricanes past Capitals
The Capitals were also in action in Friday night, as they came from behind to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets, 2-1, in overtime. Washington currently sits atop the league standings with a 27-7-5 record and 59 points in 39 games. The Caps are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games and a league-best 16-4-1 on the road. John Carlson ranks first among league defensemen in scoring with 48 points (13g, 35a) in 39 games.
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