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Red-hot Devils visit struggling Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. -- So many of the good feelings that had formed recently for the Carolina Hurricanes have been put aside.
That's what a pair of losses will do.
So that has put a heightened importance on Sunday's game against the New Jersey Devils at PNC Arena.
"They're all big games now," Hurricanes center Jeff Skinner said. "You're trying to take two points from someone you're in the mix with. You need to pick up points as much as you can. "
The teams met Thursday night in Newark, N.J., for the first of four get-togethers this season. New Jersey won 5-2.
Carolina followed that with Friday night's 3-0 home loss to the New York Islanders. The Hurricanes are naturally throwing around the big-game tag.
"Especially against these divisional opponents," Carolina forward Derek Ryan said. "Good teams this time of year don't lose two games in a row and we just did that. Sunday is a huge test, a huge battle."
So following a three-game winning streak, the Hurricanes have been outscored 8-2.
"The biggest thing now is to rebound," Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce said. "It's a must-win on Sunday."
New Jersey pulled off a 4-3 victory Saturday night at Tampa Bay, with goalie Eddie Lack making a career-high 48 saves.
The Devils will arrive on a three-game winning streak and Sunday's outing will be in advance of a three-game homestand later in the week.
The Devils seem to excel when they're under pressure.
"I just like to play in those situations," New Jersey's Nico Hischier said after Thursday night's defeat of Carolina. "That's when I'm having the most fun."
The Hurricanes haven't been getting enough bang for their efforts. They've reached the 40-shot mark seven times this season, already passing last season's total in that category.
Carolina had 45 shots without a goal against Islanders backup Thomas Greiss.
"We have to find ways to bear down," Pesce said.
Carolina has been shut out only twice this season. The other time came Dec. 5 at home against Vancouver.
"I don't think it was a lack of effort," Skinner said.
Sunday's outing marks the Hurricanes' 10th home contest in an 11-game stretch. They're 5-3-1 on home ice in this span.
"It's desperation," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "It's playoff hockey. You have to pay a price to score. We have to stay with it. We can execute a little better."
The Devils are 14-10-5 on the road and seem to be gaining confidence.
"You can feel it in the locker room before the games and after the games, Hirschier said. "It's a better mood and it gives us confidence for sure."
Lack is New Jersey's No. 2 goalie after spending the past two years as one of Carolina's goalies. This marks his first trip to Raleigh since he joined the Metropolitan Division rivals, although Keith Kinkaid is expected to start in goal for the Devils.
Both teams made weekend roster moves. Carolina called up forward Lucas Wallmark from the American Hockey League's Charlotte Checkers. The Devils adjusted their roster by calling up left winger Blake Pietila from Binghamton of the AHL.
Updated February 17, 2018
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