The Carolina Hurricanes picked up two wins over the Columbus Blue Jackets in their past two games, and Elias Lindholm did his part.
After failing to score in 12 straight games, Lindholm had two goals in the Canes’ 4-1 win Friday at PNC Arena. The next night, the winger set up Andrej Nestrasil for a power-play goal with a sharp pass as the Canes won 4-3 in overtime in Columbus.
“It’s nice to get some goals,” Lindholm said Tuesday. “I’ve had a lot of chances all season and missed a lot. It’s good to get those pretty ugly ones.”
Lindholm re-directed a shot by Noah Hanifin for his first goal against the Blue Jackets, which proved to be his second game-winner of the season. His second goal was a late empty-netter.
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“Hopefully I can score more now,” said Lindholm, who has six this season. “When you have a lot of chances and miss you start holding your stick a little bit too hard. That’s what happened to me.”
Lindholm continues to play the right side on Eric Staal’s line opposite Kris Versteeg.
“I’m just trying to bring what I can do to the line and play my game,” Lindholm said.
— Victor Rask, sidelined the past two games with an upper-body injury, is expected to return against the Pens.
Rask was at center with Jeff Skinner and Brock McGinn at the morning skate. Jordan Staal centered Joakim Nordstrom and Andrej Nestrasil, and Jay McClement with Brad Malone and Riley Nash. Chris Terry may be the extra.
The defensive pairs had Justin Faulk with John-Michael Liles, Ron Hainsey with Jacob Slavin and Noah Hanifin with Brett Pesce.
Cam Ward will make his third straight start in net after the back-to-back wins over Columbus.
“He’s played well and deserves to continue to play,” Canes coach Bill Peters said. “His ability to handle the puck helps our young D.”
Ward is 15-7-3 in his career against the Pens in the regular season with a 2.29 GGA. He had a season-high 37 saves against the Pens in a 2-1 win Dec. 19.
— The Canes scored twice on the power play in beating the 2-1 win in Pittsburgh on Dec. 19, with Jordan Staal and John-Michael Liles getting the goals.
No one has done it to the Pens since that night. Pittsburgh has killed off the past 25 penalties. The Pens are fifth in the NHL (85.2 percent) and first on the road (89.7).
Pens coach Mike Sullivan said a key to the recent success has been making opponent zone entries as difficult and disruptive as possible. Another key has been constant pressure on opponents, forcing them to make plays and looking to cause miscues.
“That’s one area we’ve improved a lot and we’ve worked a lot on,” Pens center Matt Cullen said. “We’ve built more consistency into that part of our game.”