Carolina Hurricanes

Canes have questions to be answered

The Canes Ryan Murphy (7) reaches for the puck in front of the Ottawa Senators' Mika Zibanejad (93) during the first period. The Canes Michal Jordan (47) looks on.
The Canes Ryan Murphy (7) reaches for the puck in front of the Ottawa Senators' Mika Zibanejad (93) during the first period. The Canes Michal Jordan (47) looks on. cseward@newsobserver.com

As they approach the 25-game mark, the Carolina Hurricanes have several pressing issues.

How to score more goals. How to have a more productive power play. How to better kill penalties. How to handle the goaltending.

One question that was answered Tuesday was what to do with defenseman Ryan Murphy, who was recalled from the Charlotte Checkers (AHL). Murphy had been sent down after being medically cleared from his Nov. 14 concussion and played two games for the Checkers.

“He did real well,” Peters said. “He had a couple of assists, played on the power play and scored a power-play goal in a 2-1 shootout win, did everything we asked him.”

To make room for Murphy, the Canes returned rookie Jaccob Slavin to the Checkers. The Canes have seven defensemen including Michal Jordan, who has been a healthy scratch in recent game but has a one-way contract.

The Canes (8-12-4), after a 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Monday, have two days of practice before hosting the New Jersey Devils on Thursday. While the power play has been an ongoing problem this season, especially on the road, the Canes’ penalty killing also has been slipping — Carolina now is 29th in penalty killing and 30th on the power play.

Penalty killing was a strength for the Canes last year but has become a liability. They no longer have P.K. mainstays Pat Dwyer, Andrej Sekera and Tim Gleason, and Nathan Gerbe is sidelined with an ankle injury.

The Rangers took a 2-0 lead with two power-play goals Monday as Mats Zuccarello and Oscar Lindberg scored. Lindberg was alone in the slot for a one-timer.

“It’s hurt us recently — both specialty teams,” Peters said. “We’ll probably have to continue to look at changes in personnel and do a better job with it. It’s definitely something that’s costing us points right now and we’ve got to fix it.

“The P.K., when it’s aggressive and confident, they go out and execute and do a great job and those two minutes seems to fly by. When we’re on our heels, a little bit tentative, not winning face-offs, then obviously we have problems. It’s been feast or famine, for sure.”

The goaltending has been much the same. Cam Ward has been good at times and then struggled, as he did against the Rangers. Eddie Lack has not found any kind of groove and appears tentative.

“It’s like our team,” Peters said of the goaltending. “There’s a few areas I think we’re solid in and a lot of areas where we’re in the bottom third of the league and need to get better. … It’s a microcosm of our team.”

Peters said he would wait on making the call on the starting goalie for the Devils game until after the Wednesday practice.

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