The Carolina Hurricanes (23-7-3) head to Chicago Tuesday evening to take the ice for the first time since Saturday’s thrilling come-from-behind victory over the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning.
Coming off a rare two-day break, the Hurricanes received some exciting injury-related news yesterday (more on that later), and the roster continues to creep towards the ever-elusive moniker of “healthy”.
The Hurricanes have been a team of streaks lately, with an eight-game win streak to begin March succeeded by a three-game slide. Now, the Hurricanes look to stretch their current win streak to four games.
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The biggest story for Carolina of late has been the scorching-hot stretch of play from Martin Necas. The 22-year-old Czech speedster is blossoming into a premier NHL player, seemingly growing in both confidence and performance by the game. He was probably the Hurricanes’ best player each of the last two games, combining for 6 points (3 G, 3 A) in the wins.
He has also shown a knack for coming through in big moments. He registered the primary assist on the overtime game-winner in Columbus, then had a beautiful snipe for the game-winning goal late in the third period against Tampa Bay.
He has showcased substantial chemistry with Sebastian Aho and Nino Niederreiter on the team’s newly-formed top line – a trio that is highly unlikely to be broken up, even once the roster is at full strength.
Standing in their way are the struggling Chicago Blackhawks (16-15-5), who have gone 4-8-1 in March to fall below the surging Nashville Predators at the playoff cut line in the Central Division.
Despite the recent struggles, Chicago has proven a tough out for the Hurricanes this season. They are a young, scrappy team that has shown a lot of pride and work ethic, and rookie goaltender Kevin Lankinen has been a revelation for the franchise, very capable of stealing games on occasion.
This will be the fourth of six meetings between the teams, with the Hurricanes winning two of the previous three (one in a shootout). These are the three keys to leaving the Windy City with a third W.