The Carolina Hurricanes may be back in North America, but they won’t be home for another two weeks.
They’ll try to parlay their success overseas into their best start to a season in 15 years when they open a five-game road trip against the winless Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
The Hurricanes (2-0-0) opened the season by beating Minnesota twice last week in Finland. They capped their European trek with a 2-1 shootout victory Friday, when they were officially deemed the home team.
Carolina now embarks on a grueling, conventional road trip that stops in Vancouver, San Jose, Los Angeles and Phoenix before finally returning home to face Washington on Oct. 27.
A victory Thursday would give the Hurricanes their best start since winning four in a row to begin the 1995-96 season, when the team was the Hartford Whalers. However, coach Paul Maurice is wary of his club’s ability to adjust despite a five-day layoff since returning from Europe.
“Everybody says that it’s the week or two after you get back (that’s the hardest),” Maurice told the team’s official website. “The attitude has been good on the ice and they’re working hard, but it’s just not easy to get a feel for where you’re at.”
Ward is 2-4-0 with a 3.77 goals-against average in six starts at Ottawa (0-2-1), but won his only meeting against them last season, making 31 saves in a 4-1 home victory.
The Hurricanes went 2-1-1 against the Senators in 2009-10, but lost both meetings at Ottawa, where they’ve dropped five straight.
Winless in their first three games for the first time in franchise history, the Senators feel they’re improving despite Monday’s 3-2 overtime loss at Washington. Pascal Leclaire(notes) allowed the winning goal to Alex Ovechkin(notes) with 31.1 seconds remaining.
“No one wants to be losing that many games in a row and I think it’s been overanalyzed to a point,” left wing Nick Foligno(notes) told the team’s official website. “We’re not worried in this locker room, we’re not panicking.
“We know what we’re capable of and the first three games, we were not in sync and we had to find ourselves. We did that the last game against Washington, we’re going to build off that and I think you’re going to see a lot better performances out of us.”
Ottawa could use some production from Mike Fisher(notes), who led the team with a career-high 25 goals last season but has yet to find the net in 2010-11. The center has also come up empty in his last six meetings with Carolina after scoring five goals in his previous six versus the Hurricanes.
The Senators have received a combined one goal and one assist from right wing Daniel Alfredsson(notes) and center Jason Spezza(notes) - a duo which led the team with 71 and 57 points, respectively, in 2009-10.
Spezza has 13 goals and 17 assists in 24 games against the Hurricanes, while Alfredsson has 23 points in 24 home matchups with Carolina.