The Carolina Hurricanes likely arrive for Tuesday night's game with the Ottawa Senators with a sour taste in their mouths.
"We've got to bounce back," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said, referring to Sunday's 3-2 loss at New Jersey. "That's one way to look at it. The past is done."
Carolina is on the cusp of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, so every point matters. The game against New Jersey notwithstanding, there haven't been many blunders lately for the hard-charging Hurricanes as they try to finish a solid road trip with the game at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.
Carolina is 3-1-0 on this trip and 6-2-1 in its past nine games.
"We have to focus on the next game and we have to find a way to get that one," Brind'Amour said.
The Senators have won two in a row as part of a three-game homestand.
"We've been right in hockey games most of the year," Ottawa right winger Mark Stone said. "We've played pretty hard most nights and given ourselves a chance to win. The last couple of games we've done a good job of getting the lead and playing with the lead."
Yet like the Devils, the Senators are a last-place team in their division. So with consecutive games against bottom teams, the Hurricanes are desperate to salvage a split.
"The problem with this group is the margin is so tight," Brind'Amour said. "Got to play 60 minutes or you're not going to have success. ... We came out pretty good 5-on-5 (at New Jersey)."
But Brind'Amour said troubles on the power play "sucked the life out of us."
The Senators have allowed 201 goals, the second-most in the NHL after Sunday's games. Yet they have shown strong offense at times with 172 goals, posting a better scoring average than nine other teams in the Eastern Conference.
Ottawa's breakdowns in the defensive end are sometimes glaring. It took Anders Nilsson's 44 saves to fend off the Winnipeg Jets in Saturday's 5-2 victory.
"He kept us in the game for a few stretches," left winger Zack Smith said. "They had a lot of puck possession, but we did a pretty good job of keeping them on the outside."
The recent uptick for the Senators is reason for optimism.
"We're starting to get back to where we were in the middle of December, when we were playing our best hockey," Stone said. "I think we're starting to get that confidence back."
Carolina is the only team in the league with the same number of goals scored and goals allowed -- 163 in each case.
Ottawa won 4-1 at Carolina on Jan. 18, less than two weeks after the Hurricanes posted a 5-4 road victory against the Senators.
Ottawa goes on a four-game road trip after this game, starting Thursday at Detroit. The Hurricanes start a three-game homestand on Friday against Edmonton.
--Field Level Media