The Carolina Hurricanes reinserted themselves into the playoff discussion with three out of four points in this weekend's back-to-back set, falling in overtime to Boston Saturday and winning convincingly over Ottawa the next night. The Canes improved to 9-10-5, good for 23 points and one point behind the New York Rangers for third place in the Metropolitan Division.
1. Kirk Muller must have seen something in Cam Ward’s eyes this weekend, because the decision to play him in back-to-back games shortly after returning from injury — and having a much-improved Justin Peters on hand — seemed like a curious move. But Ward played well in an overtime loss in Boston, then was even better Sunday at home, making several remarkable saves — even Ottawa’s lone goal came after a beauty — that kept Carolina in the game. This one is up for save of the year.
2. Eric Staal was riding a five-game point streak coming in to Sunday's home game vs. the Senators, but it didn't feel like a typical Staal streak until his three-point effort in the 4-1 win. Staal made a perfect pass to Tuomo Ruutu in the second period to give Carolina the lead, then had some nice board work on the power play to make room for Elias Lindholm to walk in front and score. Throw in an empty-netter and suddenly Carolina’s captain has 17 points in 24 games, including three goals and five assists in his last six games.
3. Andrej Sekera has found his scoring touch in Carolina, already notching a career-high five goals in just 24 games. The 27-year-old blueliner has always been an underrated defender — and also a decent point producer, having averaged 0.35 points per game over the past three seasons in Buffalo — but he has a new-found confidence playing with partner Justin Faulk. Regardless of the reasons, Carolina is surely happy to get extra offensive production out of their top pairing, even if it's not coming from the player they expected it to.
Number To Know
23 — Goals scored in the second period by the Hurricanes this season, including three in Sunday's 4-1 win over Ottawa. Carolina has scored nearly the same amount in the middle frame as they've combined to score in the first and third periods (24).
Patrick Dwyer — Dwyer was at his best this past weekend, scoring the tying goal in both games to help propel the Canes to three of four points. Dwyer knotted the score Saturday by creating a third-period turnover and scoring on a shorthanded breakaway. Against Ottawa, Dwyer he rifled a shot past Robin Lehner early in the second to tie the game, the first of three tallies in the period.
Kevin Westgarth — Give Westgarth credit: he was in the mix a few times to potentially score the past two games. But any value he brought over the weekend was offset by a couple of plays. In Saturday's loss in Boston, he recognized a potential odd-man rush but was still beat down the ice by the Bruins’ Brad Marchand, only to be bailed out on a nice save by Ward. Then Sunday he took a bad penalty by boarding an already down Mark Borowiecki, a play that was not only a dangerous hit but also ill-timed as Carolina was already down 1-0 in the first period.