Two is better than one, and the Carolina Hurricanes will be looking for their second straight victory as they host their Metropolitan Division rival New York Islanders.
The Canes are coming off a 2-1 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers, a game in which they were facing their sixth straight loss with under a minute left to play until Jordan Staal’s second goal of the season tied the contest and Manny Malhotra emphatically potted the game-winner in overtime.
“The stuff we were preaching was that we had to stay with the program and do all of the little things. Some type of break or bounce will happen, but we’d have to earn it,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “Now we just have to build on it and find ways to win hockey games.”
The first meeting between these two teams, which took place on Oct. 19 on Long Island, marked the Canes’ last victory prior to Monday. Carolina took a 4-3 decision in what wasn’t really as close of a contest as the score indicates; New York tacked on a pair of late goals in the third period after Jiri Tlusty scored his second of the night to extend the lead to 4-1.
The first line of Tlusty, Eric Staal and Alexander Semin combined for six points in that game. Tlusty scored his first two goals of the season, and Staal and Semin each added two helpers. The Canes’ four-goal victory marks their most prolific outing this season.
The team is searching for that sort of offensive output more consistently this season, as the Canes currently average just 1.9 goals per game. Carolina, who is 2-0-1 when scoring first, has not led in a game since that Oct. 19 match-up in New York, which compounded the difficulty of snapping a prolonged losing skid.
“We didn’t have the lead in those five games. Generally what happens is, you come out and you’re playing catch-up hockey,” Muller said. “It’s different when you come out and get that first goal. We’ve been trailing, we’ve been trying to battle all the time to try to get back in it and you get off your game.”
To perhaps bolster the offense, enter forward Chris Terry, who was swapped for 18-year-old Elias Lindholm Wednesday afternoon. Terry led Charlotte in goals (6) and was tied for the team lead in points with 10 in as many games this season.
“When you have a team that’s not scoring a lot of goals right now, it’s a great opportunity for him to play on the power play and play on the third line and get the minutes,” Muller said. “It’s a great opportunity for him to chip in offensively and help us win hockey games.”
“It’s just a step in my professional career to be consistent every game, whether it’s on the scoresheet or not,” Terry said of what’s worked for him in Charlotte. “Just being a good pro. That’s what JD (head coach Jeff Daniels) preaches down there. I try to come to the rink everyday and play my game no matter what.”
Most recently in Charlotte, Terry was playing on the left side with Brett Sutter and Aaron Palushaj to his right. With the Canes, he will skated on the left side with Riley Nash and Patrick Dwyer to his right, not an unfamiliar situation for the 24-year-old who logged his first three NHL games last season.
“My first game last year was with Nasher and Dwyer, so there’s a lot of familiarity there, and I’ve spent a lot of time with Riley down in Charlotte. I’m comfortable and feel ready to go,” he said. “Just play my game. Shoot pucks, and don’t change anything. It’s a good opportunity here.”
In his first career game in the NHL, Terry tallied his first career NHL goal, as he shoveled in a puck on the doorstep at the tail end of a power play. Terry, who is the first forward to be recalled from Charlotte this season, will get another look on the first power play unit tonight.
“He’s a guy that had a good camp. Last year he got his feet wet here for a couple of games and got a goal,” Muller said. “He had to get a little quicker and play at that tempo. He went down, he worked hard, he’s in great shape, he’s skating well and he’s producing down there.”
Retracting the microscope lens a bit, the Canes have had great success against the Islanders in recent history. In the last 31 meetings between the two teams, Carolina has compiled a 21-5-5 record, earning points in 18 of the last 20 meetings (14-2-4). Additionally, the Canes have tallied points in eight of the last nine meetings with New York at PNC Arena (6-1-2).