The Carolina Hurricanes have held one of the best records in the NHL throughout the first couple of months of the season.
They ran into another team with a stellar mark during the weekend. Now they encounter one of the surging teams in the league with Tuesday night's road game against the DallasStars.
The Stars have won four consecutive games, allowing a total of five goals during that stretch.
"We're getting to where we want to be," Stars coach Rick Bowness said. "It wasn't that long ago we were eight points out of a playoff spot, and we've closed that gap. We want to be in one of those top three spots in the division, that's what our goal is."
The Hurricanes went 4-1-1 on a six-game road trip prior to Sunday's stopover at home, where they fell 4-2 to the Washington Capitals.
"I don't like that we have to go right back on the road," Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "That's a weird schedule, but every team has quirks in their schedule."
For Carolina, it will be important to ramp up the energy again. The clash with the Capitals was much anticipated between teams that often have been bitter rivals in the past. And sure enough, the game was filled with emotion.
The Hurricanes and Stars will meet just twice this season after colliding regularly as division opponents in the reconfigured 2021 schedule because of the pandemic. So there's an unusual amount of familiarity between these teams from opposite conferences.
Carolina was the regular-season division champion last season, going 3-0-1 in games at Dallas.
The Stars have won five straight home games.
Stars left winger Roope Hintz has provided a nice chunk of the offensive boost during the past few weeks. He has 11 points in the last nine games.
"We just have to keep playing like that right now," Hintz said.
Stars will go with Jake Oettinger or Braden Holtby at goalie. Holtby was familiar with the Hurricanes when he faced them often as a member of the Capitals.
Carolina holds an 8-1-1 record this season against teams from the Western Conference. Half of their games have come against teams from each conference, a bit of a schedule oddity at this stage of the season.
The Hurricanes have gone six consecutive games without a power-play goal. That's one reason why some of the consistency has waned for Carolina.
"There are so many things we can improve," Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho said. "The power play is definitely one of those things we can get better at."
Carolina's Jesperi Kotkaniemi has scored a goal in each of the last two games. That marks his first time scoring in consecutive games since the 2019-20 season with Montreal. Kotkaniemi has four points across the last five games after supplying three points through the opening 15 games of the season.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes could use a boost from captain Jordan Staal, who has been praised for his play and faceoff work at times. But the center has gone more than a month without a goal, providing three assists during that span.
--Field Level Media