Although their offense has been far from overwhelming lately, it’s been enough to help the Carolina Hurricanes open their homestand successfully.
The Hurricanes aim to win three straight for the first time the season, while ending a four-game losing streak against the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday.
Carolina (10-7-2) has scored 2.63 goals per game in 2008-09, but has been limited to two or fewer six times in its last seven contests (3-4-0).
The Hurricanes, though, haven’t needed much offense to win the first two contests of their current four-game stretch at the RBC Center, beating Tampa Bay 3-2 in a shootout on Sunday and rallying past Montreal 2-1 on Tuesday behind a season-high 48 shots on goal.
“We’re just building a little bit on each game,” said Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette, whose team has won seven of its 11 one-goal decisions. “If you go back to (Friday’s) loss in Atlanta, the next game and the next game, I think we’re doing the right things and getting a little better each game. So we just have to continue on that road.”
“We’re doing what we’re doing now with not a lot of goal-scoring,” said Whitney, the Hurricanes’ leader with 15 points.
Carolina has also been finding ways to succeed without much production from top center Eric Staal, who has been limited to one assist in his last eight contests.
Staal paced the Hurricanes with 38 goals, 44 assists and 82 points last season, but has been held to five goals and five assists overall, including only two points in nine home games. His goal-scoring drought is his longest since a nine-game span from Dec. 19, 2006-Jan. 4, 2007.
“Our next (goal) is to get the big boy going,” Whitney said of Staal, who has a goal and an assist in three career games versus Phoenix (8-8-1).
Carolina has been outscored 33-19 in losing seven of 10 matchups to Phoenix since Jan. 27, 2000, falling 2-0 at home on Jan. 4, 2007 in the most recent matchup. The Hurricanes have been shut out twice during a four-game losing streak to the Coyotes, with their last win in the series coming on Nov. 12, 2002.
Like Carolina, Phoenix has been plagued by offensive struggles recently. The Coyotes totaled 13 goals during a three-game winning streak from Nov. 8-12, but have since mustered four while losing three straight (0-2-1).
“We have to generate more offense somehow, and unfortunately we haven’t done it,” said captain Shane Doan, who scored his team-high 10th goal in a 3-2 shootout loss to visiting Chicago on Tuesday.
Doan, who leads the Coyotes with 18 points, has a goal and four assists in his last five contests against Carolina.
Ilya Bryzgalov has started Phoenix’s last three games, and is expected to be in net Friday, according to the Coyotes’ official Web site. He allowed three goals on 14 shots in losing his only career start versus the Hurricanes.
Carolina’s Cam Ward has allowed eight goals on 45 shots in losing two career games against Phoenix.