It’s a tough time for a hockey team when its playoff chances have ended but there are still games to be played.
In the Carolina Hurricanes’ case, three games to be played.
The Canes, eliminated Tuesday from playoff contention, now can eliminate the New York Islanders with a victory Thursday at PNC Arena. Not that it’s the Canes’ priority.
“We need to get a win,” Canes coach Bill Peters said after the morning skate. “We haven’t won in a while. We need to see what that feels like once again.”
The Canes’ ended a homestand on Saturday with a disappointing 3-0 loss to the Dallas Stars, Carolina’s first regulation loss in 14 games after a 9-0-4 run. They played better but lost Sunday on the road against Pittsburgh, then Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild.
The Canes have won three of four games against the Isles this season, including a 7-4 win at PNC Arena on Jan. 14 and an 8-4 win in Brooklyn on March 13.
Why so wide-open?
“Tough to figure,” Peters said. “There’s been a lot of offense obviously. There’s been some good goals scored both ways.
“Obviously you like it on one side of the spectrum. But on the other you’d like to tighten up.”
-- Andrew Poturalski, who made his NHL debut for the Canes at Minnesota, will be playing his first home game at PNC Arena.
Poturalski centered a line with Bryan Bickell and Brock McGinn that was on the ice for two of the Wild’s three first-period goals, but Peters said he saw improvement in the rookie’s play as the game moved on.
“I thought he settled in,” Peters said. “I thought he was nervous early, starting in the pregame skate when he looked a little wound up, and then starting the game that way. He got better.”
Poturalski, 23, is in his first full professional season. Once a teammate of the Canes’ Brett Pesce at New Hampshire, he leads the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) in assists and points this season.
-- Eddie Lack will be the starting goalie and Cam Ward the backup against the Isles, Peters said. Ward missed the morning skate for a maintenance day.
The lines at the skate had Jordan Staal centering Sebastian Aho and Elias Lindholm, Derek Ryan at center with Jeff Skinner and Lee Stempniak, Victor Rask centering Joakim Nordstrom and Teuvo Teravainen, and Poturalski with Bickell and McGinn.
The defensive pairs were Jaccob Slavin-Brett Pesce, Noah Hanifin-Justin Faulk and Klas Dahlbeck-Matt Tennyson.
-- Big game Thursday in the semifinals of NCAA Frozen Four in Chicago — Minnesota-Duluth vs Harvard.
Justin Faulk won an NCAA title at Minnesota-Duluth in 2011 as a freshman, in his only college hockey season. Canes TV analyst Tripp Tracy is a former Harvard goalie and the two have a friendly bet riding on the game: dinner on the road next season.
Faulk feels confident about his chances and the Bulldogs (27-6-7), who have won seven straight.
“Their season kind of reminds me what what we did,” he said. “They had a really good first half of the year and were ranked first in the nation, then lost some games in the second half. They did finish better than we did.”
Notre Dame faces Denver in the other Frozen Four game.