The Carolina Hurricanes haven't always played at their peak level in the first week-plus of the season.
The results, though, have been spot-on -- 5-0-0 ahead of a meeting with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night in Raleigh, N.C.
"I like the fact that we're winning not playing our best," coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "That's a good (thing). There's a lot of areas of games I like, but there's a lot that's not quite there yet, but we've been able to find wins. ...
"If you can bank some (points) when you're not playing your best, that's crucial."
Both the Hurricanes and the Blue Jackets played Friday night, with Carolina defeating the visiting New York Islanders 5-2 to set the mark for the best start in franchise history. It was a largely smooth performance for the Hurricanes, who never trailed for the second game in a row.
Columbus lost 2-1 against the visiting Anaheim Ducks, so the Blue Jackets (1-3-0) are still looking for their first win in regulation.
Even with the Hurricanes on a historic early pace, Brind'Amour isn't paying much attention to the standings.
"It's focusing every day is what we're trying to do," Brind'Amour said. "It's boring, but win the day and move on to the next day. Hopefully, by the end of the year, you have enough of those."
Heading to Carolina, the Blue Jackets have played only one previous road game, dropping a 7-2 decision on Oct. 5 at Pittsburgh.
The Blue Jackets have to become more instinctive about how they play away from the puck, according to coach John Tortorella. There are times he has five newcomers in the lineup.
"We can't afford to just wade into this," Tortorella said. "We have to step in and rectify this right away."
Tortorella said the defensemen are included to be involved in the offense, but it takes more.
"This is really about the forwards not being flat in the offensive zone," he said.
The Hurricanes are in the middle of games on back-to-back nights for the first time this season, while Columbus went through a similar set-up last weekend.
The Blue Jackets have an awkward schedule in the coming week, with three days off before playing three games in four nights.
"It is the schedule, so we just follow it," Columbus center Alexander Wennberg said. "This is how the season goes. Right now, you just have to play hockey."
Carolina right winger Julien Gauthier, a 2016 first-round draft pick, made his NHL debut Friday night. Now some of the nerves might be out of the way after he had an even rating and a two-minute penalty in 8:23 of ice time.
"We just want him to play his game," Brind'Amour said. "He's a big body (who) can skate (and) should fit in with what we try to do."
Friday night marked the Hurricanes' first regular-season game without right winger Jordan Martinook since the 2017-18 season. Martinook is out for up to two months after surgery Friday to address a core muscle injury.
Carolina is bound to turn to goalie James Reimer for the second of the back-to-back games. Brind'Amour has kept the goalie distribution even so far with Petr Mrazek and Reimer playing every other game.
Columbus' Joonas Korpisalo made his fourth start in five games Friday, so it's possible backup Elvis Merzlikins could be in net Saturday. Merzlikins, 25, gave up seven goals to the Penguins last week in his NHL debut.
--Field Level Media