Carolina Hurricanes: Need win against Ottawa Senators

RALEIGH, NC - JANUARY 18: Carolina Hurricanes right wing Nino Niederreiter (21) tries for the puck while eOttawa Senators left wing Zack Smith (15) stick breaks during the 1st period of the Carolina Hurricanes game versus the Ottawa Senators on January 18th, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. (Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - JANUARY 18: Carolina Hurricanes right wing Nino Niederreiter (21) tries for the puck while eOttawa Senators left wing Zack Smith (15) stick breaks during the 1st period of the Carolina Hurricanes game versus the Ottawa Senators on January 18th, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. (Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Carolina Hurricanes face the Ottawa Senators tonight to bring their season-long road trip to a close. After a gutting loss in their last game, the Canes now sit three points off the last wildcard spot in the East – a win is a must.

After beginning this road trip with three wins from three, including shutout wins over the Penguins and the Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes fans were brought back down to earth with a bump by that troubling loss to the New Jersey Devils. The Canes dominated the second and third periods, but their first period hangover, coupled with some strange refereeing decisions, meant that the task was beyond them.

They face an Ottawa Senators team doing their best not to sell off all of their assets. The team’s leading forwards – Matt Duchene, Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel – are all impending UFAs this summer, and have all been linked with trades ahead of the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 25th. They sit dead last in the Eastern Conference, and dead last in the NHL – all while not owning their 2019 1st round draft pick.

A Senators team conceding more goals per game than any other NHL team should be ripe for the plucking. Rod Brind’Amour will be working overtime to ensure his players are revved up for puck drop, after that dreadful first period last time out; with Curtis McElhinney expected to be between the sticks for the Canes, this is a game we are huge favorites for. We also have to exact revenge for the 4-1 hammering we received back on Jan. 18th. McElhinney is 2-4-0 in his career against the Senators, but still sports a 2.81 GAA and .911% save percentage.

After the Devils loss we looked at what the Carolina Hurricanes need to do to get back to winning ways. While points two and three aren’t necessarily quick fixes and/or decisions, the first point is one that we have to hope Rod Brind’Amour has already done: taken Justin Faulk off the first power play unit, and given a shot to Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton now has 10 goals this season compared to Faulk’s 5, and he’s simply the better defenseman and shooter. This should have happened in October.

We predict a hard-fought, but ultimately comfortable, win over these luckless Senators. Matt Duchene would look great in a Canes jersey, but just like his team-mates, he’s going to look bad in his Senators jersey tonight.

Prediction: Hurricanes 5-2 Senators

Next. How to get the Canes' season back on track. dark

This Carolina Hurricanes team has done well under coach Rod Brind’Amour when rebounding from a disappointing loss – we fully expect the team to come out flying and make amends for that horrible first period against the Devils. If the Canes can pull two points out of the bag, they’re back within one of a wildcard spot; we say it every game, but this is a must-win situation for Brind’Amour’s boys. We have complete faith that they’ll deliver.