Carolina Hurricanes

Surging Canes want to ‘keep this going’

After an 0-6-2 start, the Canes were being buried by most of the NHL media. There was much talk of Carolina being the frontrunner in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes.

Much has changed, of course. The Canes are 5-0-1 in November. McDavid has a broken hand. The media is muted. That's how quickly fortunes can be reversed.

The Canes face the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night with a chance to get back to NHL .500. Canes coach Bill Peters again will have Cam Ward in net, looking to earn his sixth straight victory.

While the Canes have been winning, it's not time to exhale, captain Eric Staal said.

"Not right now, no. We want to keep this going," Staal said. "I don't think Bill (Peters) will let that happen. I don't think the leadership guys in the room will let it happen.

"We know where we're at. We still have a hill to climb and we still need to get the work in. You're not going to win in this league if you don't put the work in."

Staal will be on the wing on Victor Rask's line against the Jets, but Peters said Thursday Staal would be on the the right side and Jiri Tlusty on the left side.

"We think Victor is a guy who can make plays on his forehand and get it over to the right side, and (Staal) with wide speed can maybe turn the corner and get to the net and be dangerous on the rush. Jiri Tlusty is a very good player. All three guys are playing well right now and we think that can be a very dangerous line in multiple areas tonight."

At the morning skate, Riley Nash was centering Nathan Gerbe and Elias Lindholm, Jay McClement was at center with Jeff Skinner and Alex Semin, and Brad Malone was centering Zach Boychuk and Pat Dwyer. Chris Terry was the extra forward.

The defensive pairs had Justin Faulk with Andrej Sekera, Ron Hainsey with John-Michael Liles and Jay Harrison with Tim Gleason. Brett Bellemore, coming off an upper-body injury, was the extra.

The Jets (8-6-2) were counting on seeing Staal at left wing. The whiteboard in their locker room at PNC Arena had the Canes' lines listed and Staal at left wing.

Staal was sidelined with an injury and did not play when the Canes were beaten 3-1 in Winnipeg last month. The Canes also were missing Gerbe and Dwyer, both out with injuries, and Jordan Staal is out with a broken leg.

Asked about the difference in the Canes that went 0-6-2 and the Carolina team that's 5-0-1 in the last six, Jets coach Paul Maurice said, "They're dressing NHL'ers.

"And I'm not trying to be disrespectful to the young players who came in and played, but this is a man's league. You take the top two centermen off anybody's team and they're going to struggle. And it wasn't just those guys. I think at one point they were down seven (players). They took it both barrels, right out of the gate."

Michael Hutchinson will start in net for the Jets and make his fourth appearance of the season. Hutchinson (1-1-0, 1.80 GAA, .945 save pct) last played Nov. 2 at Chicago and had 33 saves in a 1-0 victory.

"He battles his butt off at practice every day and tries to get better," the Jets' Andrew Ladd said. "Everybody respects how he works. He's a great pro and every time he gets in the net everyone wants to play hard for him."