The Carolina Hurricanes (22-11-2, 46 pts) are preparing for something they haven’t done in a while: playing a home game.
It’s been two weeks since the Canes defeated the Minnesota Wild 6-2 on December 7th. That was the last hockey match at PNC Arena before the Canes departed on their recent five-game road trip, one which saw them claim nine out of a possible ten points.
One player who played featured prominently during the recent road trip was Andrei Svechnikov. The 19-year-old Russian now leads Carolina in points (36); his next point will bring him even with his total output from his rookie campaign. With more than half of the current season still to go, Svechnikov’s 73 points across his first two NHL seasons place him fifth in Canes’ history (since relocation). He trails only Eric Staal (131), Sebastian Aho (114), Jeff Skinner (107), and Victor Rask (81).
With the top two lines rolling, the bottom six are set to receive a boost from the return of Erik Haula. The 28-year old Finn will return to the lineup after Brian Gibbons was reassigned to Charlotte on Friday.
Petr Mrazek (14-6-2) should get the start. Mrazek is 3-1 in his last four games, with his only loss coming in overtime against Vancouver.
The Canes’ expected lines:
Nino Niederreiter - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Andrei Svechnikov - Jordan Staal - Warren Foegele
Ryan Dzingel - Erik Haula - Martin Necas
Brock McGinn - Lucas Wallmark - Jordan Martinook
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Joel Edmundson - Brett Pesce
Jake Gardiner - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Injuries and Scratches: Haydn Fleury (healthy)
The Canes will look to extend their points streak to eight games against the Florida Panthers (16-12-5, 37 pts). It’s the third and final matchup between the teams this season; Carolina won both previous meetings.
The Panthers are powered by the duo of Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov. Huberdeau (11g, 30a) leads the team in points while Barkov (11g, 26a) is second. Don’t sleep on Noel Acciari, though, who comes into tonight’s game after posting back-to-back hat tricks in the Panthers’ last two outings.
In an interesting twist, tonight’s game will feature the NHL’s top three Finnish point-scorers: Barkov (37), Teravainen (35), and Aho (34).
In net, the workhorse Sergei Bobrovsky (12-9-4, .903 SV%, 3.06 GAA) will get the start. Although Bobrovsky is 3-3 in his last six, he’s averaging a .953 save percentage over that same stretch.
The Panthers’ expected lines:
Frank Vatrano - Aleksander Barkov - Brett Connolly
Jonathan Huberdeau - Vincent Trocheck - Noel Acciari
Mike Hoffman - Brian Boyle - Evgenii Dadonov
Dominic Toninato - Denis Malgin - Colton Sceviour
MacKenzie Weegar - Aaron Ekblad
Mike Matheson - Anton Stralman
Keith Yandle - Josh Brown
Injuries and Scratches: Jayce Hawryluk (upper-body)