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Hurricanes aim to bounce back and keep Flames cold
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Carolina Hurricanes were shut out in their most recent trip to the ice, but their offensive struggles are nowhere near as alarming as what is currently plaguing the Calgary Flames.
The 'Canes look to bounce back after having their longest winning streak of the season halted as they host the Flames on Monday night.
Carolina won the first four of their recent five-game win streak by one-goal margins, netting 14 goals in that span. Following a postponed game versus Buffalo due to weather, the Hurricanes routed the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1 on Thursday, but saw their offense go cold in a 3-0 setback at Columbus the following night.
Anton Khudobin made 21 saves for the Hurricanes, who were shut out for the third time this season and for the first time since Dec. 9.
"The first period was like a chess match type of game for both teams," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. "Nothing was going on, which we were quite happy with.
"Then, one or two breakdowns and they capitalized. They're a good team. They play a good system. They don't give up much. We don't give up much either, but we weren't able to sustain that second and third opportunity and capitalize."
The Blue Jackets were able to slow down 'Canes forward Jeff Skinner, who went into the game with 17 goals in his previous 17 contests but couldn't find the back of the next on Friday despite a team-high seven shots on net.
Skinner could get some help on Monday if captain Eric Staal can return from a lower-body injury that has sidelined him the past three games. Staal, who had played in 191 consecutive games, was able to return to practice on Sunday and has 10 goals and 35 points in 42 games this season.
"We've got to see how he responds to (Sunday). We want to be smart," Muller told Carolina's website. "We have all the days off after that, so we want to make sure if he's ready to go (Monday), it's nothing that sets him back."
Carolina will now take on a Calgary team that has been in an offensive rut for the last two-plus weeks. The Flames have been outscored 13-1 over a three-game slide and 26-6 over their past eight games, a span in which they have been shut out five times while going 1-7-0.
Calgary was nearly blanked again on Saturday versus the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins until Mikael Backlund scored at 11:29 of the third period in a 2-1 loss.
Backlund's goal snapped a club-record 196-minute, 59-second scoring drought at home for the Flames.
Reto Berra was solid in the loss with 24 saves.
"I wasn't as good as the guy on the other side tonight," said Berra. "You know, the guys in front made some blocks and I was able to make some saves, but not enough."
The Flames will play two straight and four of their next five on the road.
Calgary didn't light up the lamp all that much in its first meeting with Carolina this season, but still managed a 2-1 home victory in overtime on Dec. 12. Chris Butler scored the winning goal with inside of four seconds left in the bonus frame, while Karri Ramo made 29 saves. That included a stop on Skinner during a third-period penalty shot.
The Flames beat the Hurricanes for the sixth time in the past eight meetings, but have lost two straight in Carolina.
Skinner had a goal and Justin Peters made 28 saves for Carolina.
The Hurricanes activated forward Riley Nash off injured reserve on Saturday while sending forwards Zach Boychuk and Brett Sutter to the minors. Nash had missed the past five games with a lower-body injury and has four goals with six assists in 36 games this season.
01/13 10:41:53 ET