This is a game Carolina cannot afford to lose. After going 0-2-1 in their last three, Carolina has gotten points from its last 14 games. With the lead at the top of the Metropolitan that was once double digits now sitting at just four above the Pittsburgh Penguins with two games in hand, Carolina needs to start putting some distance between themselves and their Metropolitan Division rivals.
We will see the New York Rangers come into town for this one. New York is playing on the second half of a back-to-back and is coming off a major victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning with a last-minute win over the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions. New York was defeated earlier in the year when they visited the Tar Heel state. They’re coming back looking to avenge that defeat from January.
Carolina will need to stay out of the box to give themselves the best chance in this one. New York comes to two and brings the league’s second-best powerplay with them. Carolina’s penalty kill is the league’s best, but you don’t want to go to that well too often. You’re going to have penalties called against you, but try to ensure it’s as little as possible. Don’t give away anything that’s undeniably a penalty if you can avoid it.
Carolina will be going into this game without forwards Nino Niederreiter and Jordan Martinook. Martinook is out for at least two weeks with a lower-body injury after he fell awkwardly during the game in Toronto. Nino is serving a one-game suspension received for slashing a player on the Washington bench during that defeat. It’s looking like an 11-7 split in terms of forwards and defenders tonight.
This is going to be a great game, and Carolina cannot afford to drop any more points.