TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - Following two straight wins to open the NHL Prospects Tournament, the Carolina Hurricanes earned a day off away from the rink on Sunday.
The team got back to work on Monday morning in preparation for their third and final round-robin match of the tournament against the Dallas Stars. The Hurricanes sit atop the Ted Lindsay Division with five points, while the Stars loom close behind with four. The winner of tonight's tilt will advance to Tuesday's championship match.
"Dallas so far has looked really good. They have good speed, so we anticipate a good game here," head coach Ulf Samuelsson said. "Our alertness and awareness of the speed is going to be an important factor."
The Hurricanes have been the speedier bunch in each of their first two tournament games. The team used that speed and skill to its advantage on Saturday night, jumping out to an early 3-0 lead on Minnesota and defeating them 4-2.
"Our speed] is very good," Samuelsson assessed. "We have a lot of interesting players and a lot of skill. It's been a really fun group of guys to work with so far."
A day off on Sunday helped to separate the two sets of back-to-back games that comprise this tournament, and Samuelsson expects his squad to return to the rink refreshed and energized this evening.
"For some of these guys, it was their first game at this pace. They had a lot of nerves. To get another game back-to-back is draining," Samuelsson said. "So I think getting out there yesterday and doing some fishing, some beaching, some miniature golf, just getting some fresh air will do wonders for some of these kids."
The Hurricanes will turn back to goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic tonight against Dallas. He was tested often by New York in the first game of the tournament and looked sharp, helping his team to a 4-3 overtime win.
"He's ready to go," Samuelsson said. "He was out there early today and wanted some extra shots. He looks hungry."
Defenseman Haydn Fleury remains sidelined with a lower-body injury; his status is day-to-day, with the team likely taking every precaution it can before training camp begins in Raleigh on Friday. Up front, Spencer Smallman absorbed a puck to the mouth in Saturday's game. He left for repairs and did not return. He now sports a swollen, sutured upper-lip but all of his teeth, as well, thanks to his mouth guard. Smallman will not play tonight.
Be sure to catch tonight's game streaming live through the FOX Sports GO app. And, if you have trouble accessing the app or don't have a paid television subscription, we'll have the stream live right here on (new and improved) CarolinaHurricanes.com. For live play-by-play updates, follow us on Twitter at @Canes_Gameday.
Scratches: Fleury (lower body), Peters, Smallman, Booth