The Carolina Hurricanes embark on an important weekend of games at home. Tonight, the Dallas Stars visit PNC Arena in a battle between Western and Eastern Conference foes.
Carolina just completed an extremely successful six-game road trip that lasted over a span of two weeks.
On Thursday, the Hurricanes returned home to play another Western Conference opponent the Seattle Kraken.
The road warriors returned home for a 3-2 victory over the Kraken. Pyotr Kochetkov held on for another victory in an impressive run for the rookie of the year candidate.
It was a strong effort that started off flawless, but the Kraken slipped back into the game and an untested Kochetkov was sharp enough late to secure the victory.
The scoring was contributed by some unexpected players as this team continues to win as a team. Stefan Noesen scored on a penalty shot and Derek Stepan scored off a nice feed from Jack Drury.
Look at the Opponent
The Stars are in the midst of a five-game road trip themselves. Like the Hurricane’s road trip, the Stars began the trip in Pittsburgh. They were defeated by a score of 2-1.
Since that first loss at the hands of the Penguins, the Stars have won two straight defeating the Metro Division-leading, New Jersey Devils followed by a victory in our nation’s capital.
Two stellar goaltending performances by Scott Wedgewood and Jake Oettinger. Oettinger stopped 45 shots against the Capitals en route to a 2-1 victory.
The Stars will head to Columbus after tonight to play the Blue Jackets on Monday and then head home for the holidays.
Dallas leads the Central Division with 41 points in 31 games. That is also good for second in the Western Conference.
The road has treated the Stars slightly worse than at home with a 9-5-2 record away from the lone star state.
Dallas is currently tied with the Boston Bruins for the most goals scored in the NHL at 112.
This group is loaded with scoring talent, led by Jason Robertson. Robertson leads the team with 23 goals and 43 points. Captain, Jamie Benn, is having another solid season with 12 goals and 28 points.
Roope Hintz is having a great year with 13 goals and 35 points. Joe Pavelski, the American veteran, has 30 points and 10 goals.
The defense is led by Miro Heiskanen with 5 goals and 23 points.
Oettinger leads the way in the crease with 21 starts. Oettinger has a strong 2.42 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. Wedgewood has been strong in his 10 starts with a .914 save percentage.
The Stars are a power-packed offense and can put up 4 plus goals a night. With all the impressive seasons listed above, we have yet to mention the likes of Tyler Seguin and Mason Marchment.
Although the penalty kill has been much better for the Hurricanes of late, it will be crucial to stay out of the box against this talented group.
Jaccob Slavin and Brent Burns will have their hands full, but the game should open up a bit for an opportunity to create turnovers and counterattack.
Ideally, Carolina would like to grind the game out more and keep Dallas’s scorers at bay and outside the circles.
Tonight would be a good opportunity to give Anttti Raanta a start. Raanta has not played since the first of the month and could use the opportunity to shake off some rust in a back-to-back.
It is a tough match-up to return to the crease but tomorrow night the divisional rival, Pittsburgh Penguins, comes to PNC Arena for the back end of the back-to-back.
The divisional opponent would be better for a rested Kochetkov to face than an out-of-conference battle.
The Hurricanes have a chance this weekend to put themselves very close to the top of the Metro Division with some important points to be had.