Two teams took to the ice Wednesday for practices at Raleigh Center Ice, and one with a lot more smiles and chatter than the other.
The Canes are back home after a road trip, are coming off a pair of victories and had Tuesday off. The Ducks were practicing less than 24 hours after a rough 6-2 road loss to the Florida Panthers.
The Canes (19-26-7) have 30 games left in the season and will be setting some goals despite not going to the playoffs, coach Bill Peters said.
"We're going to set something here coming down the stretch -- we've got some ideas," Peters said, without being specific. "We'll do that after our next two games.
“It'll be fun. The guys are excited. They want to win. They're a competitive group of guys, they're a proud group and we want to win as many games as we can to finish the year."
The Ducks (34-14-7) have a big lead in the Pacific Division but have lost their last three after beginning their five-game road trip with a 5-2 win in Nashville. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau put his team through a long practice after the Canes at RCI, ending it with extra skating and then a skull session.
"It was a little longer than I wanted to, but sometimes when you don't play as well you'd like to, you have to go a little longer because you need to," Boudreau said.
Boudreau said the Ducks had "steadily been slipping" the past seven games -- a stretch that includes a 5-4 overtime win over the Canes last week in Anaheim.
"We haven't played anywhere near to our capabilities and quite frankly allowed way too many goals,” he said.
Tampa Bay beat the Ducks 5-3 on Sunday. Two nights later, the Panthers had a 2-0 lead after the first and led 5-2 after two.
"You know they're going to play real well," Peters said of the Ducks. "They're going to be desperate. They'll get their team organized and be a real good team (Thursday). We know what we're up against. We have to play better than we did in Anaheim."
The Canes led 4-2 in the third at the Honda Center but the Ducks scored twice in the final 10 minutes of regulation and won on Ryan Getzlaf's goal early in overtime.
"We took our foot off the gas a little bit, but give them credit, they pushed back, too," Peters said. "Their best players were real good when they got down and did a good job and we failed to score on the power play."
The Canes will be without defenseman Ryan Murphy, who was suffered a leg injury against the Arizona Coyotes last Thursday and has been placed on injured reserve.
"Too bad. Young guy, hasn't played a lot of NHL hockey and was playing well and playing good valuable minutes," Peters said.
Peters said the Canes might look to call up a D-man from the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) but not for the Ducks game.