Defenseman Andrej Sekera returned to practice Monday as the Canes geared up for a two-game road trip to Washington and Nashville.
Sekera has missed the past two games -- losses to New Jersey and Vancouver on home ice -- with an upper-body injury. But he was back with defensive partner Justin Faulk on Monday and Canes coach Kirk Muller believes he could play in Tuesday's game against the Caps.
"He felt pretty good," Muller said. "It was a nice surprise that he felt better than we thought today."
Forward Patrick Dwyer missed practice Monday -- Muller called it a "maintenance day." Forward Alexander Semin (concussion) and defenseman Tim Gleason (lower-body injury) also were missing.
Semin will not make the trip, Muller said. Gleason did not skate Monday before practice and likely will stay in Raleigh, Muller said.
Anton Khudobin will be in the trip, giving the Canes three goaltenders. Muller said Khudobin, who has been out since Oct. 13 with an ankle injury, should get into full practices soon.
The Canes put in some two-on-one, three-on-two and five-on-five work Monday. It was a businesslike session with few raised voices.
Asked about the morale of the team, Muller said, "Actually, we're fine. We're disappointed and we're not happy about throwing away points that were big. But what are you going to do? We have to roll up the sleeves and go to work tomorrow in Washington.
"You can't hang your heads. We've got three games in four nights now. We've got to compete harder and compete harder at a consistent level. But you can't lose your energy on moping around today. We've got to prepare for a big game tomorrow. The guys know that."
Washington is a solid second in the Metropolitan Division with 30 points, five ahead of the sixth-place Canes. But the Canes did win in their last trip to the Verizon Center, rallying for a 3-2 victory.
"That was a good game. We played well as a team and it was a big win for us," defenseman Ryan Murphy said. "This will be a very similar game going in, in that we're chasing Washington in the standings. We're a group that has been up and down, and we want to get on a streak where there's more consistency in our game.
"We have a confident group. Everybody is still positive and we believe in what we can do on the ice. We just have to go out there and have a 60-minute game."