The Carolina Hurricanes were the latest victim of the Calgary Flames. As they continue their quest at the top of the Western Conference, the Hurricanes fell by a score of 4-3 on Sunday afternoon. Carolina buried a late goal to make it 4-3, but it was too late to complete a comeback.
The Flames have been a difficult team to keep up with this season, but every point missed by the Hurricanes is going to be magnified now. They are currently 3 points behind the Blue Jackets for the final wildcard in the Eastern Conference. Tied with them are the Buffalo Sabres. The Flyers who are suddenly making things pretty interesting are creeping up from behind.
I don’t know if the Flyers are going to have enough in the tank down the stretch to steal a playoff spot, but if they continue to get strong play out of Carter Hart, it’s going to be tough to ignore them. For the Hurricanes, they have to keep peppering the opposing net and look to Curtis McElhinney to stay healthy and get hot. McElhinney has been bothered by a lower-back injury, leading to Petr Mrazek seeing more time between the pipes.
McElhinney has not seen the crease since January 15th, but has since returned in a backup role. He was struggling leading up to his time off the ice, so he is going to have to find the magic he possessed earlier in the year. Of course, lets not completely ignore Mrazek, but he is one of those goaltenders that you know what you’re going to get with him. He will play adequate hockey, though he doesn’t really go on these long hot runs. McElhinney, while he can be spotty in net, has shown the ability to get hot. The Penguins are returning home after a tough 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Saturday. Get our free Hurricanes vs. Maple Leafs pick below.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Pick
The Maple Leafs have been deceptively good defensively this season and the Penguins were made aware of that on Saturday. The offence was flying with 9 goals in their previous two games before Freddie Andersen brought them down a notch. They should be able to find better chances against the Hurricanes at home this evening. With McElhinney banged up and struggling in his most recent outings, and Mrazek allowing an average of more than 3 goals per game in his last five games, the Hurricanes haven’t had anywhere to turn in net.
It’s shown as the Hurricanes have given up 3.6 goals per game in their previous ten games. However, the offence has picked up the slack and scored 3.8 per game during that same stretch. For the amount of shots they put on net, it only becomes a matter of time before the pucks find the back of the net. They weren’t converting much early in the season despite the barrage of shots, but in the last few months they’ve been getting better puck luck.
Carolina remains in 1st, posting an average of 36 shots per game. Meanwhile, the Penguins are 27th with 33 shots allowed. They’ve also allowed 3.8 goals per game in their last ten. In other words, the Canes should be able to find their chances around Matt Murray tonight. The Pens are undoubtedly going to have to patch that up before the playoffs or they may have a quick exit, or worse, not make the playoffs altogether.
That may not be enough to stop the Pens on Tuesday, though. While Carolina are likely to get their opportunities, the Pittsburgh has been one of the best in the league this season at converting their chances. Especially at home in Pittsburgh, where they are averaging 3.62 goals per game on the season. The streaky penguins should be able to get their offence moving after getting zero energy against the Leafs on Saturday. A 4-3 or 5-3 game looks probable here, so the OVER is worth a look.