Hurricanes face Rangers, look to avoid four-game skid

The temperature seems to be rising as the final weeks of the regular season arrive for the Carolina Hurricanes.

They say they can take the heat.

"It was definitely a playoff-feel type of game," defenseman Brett Pesce said of the most recent contest. "We fed off that energy for sure."

Yet Carolina has lost three consecutive games, including Friday night's 4-3 shootout setback to the visiting Washington Capitals.

The Hurricanes must beat the visiting New York Rangers on Sunday evening in Raleigh, N.C., to avoid their first four-game losing streak of the season.

As one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, the Hurricanes have faced regular challenges. They insist they can embrace the difficult games.

"I love the kind of games when it's gritty in your face," said rookie center Seth Jarvis, who posted the first two-goal game of his career in the outing against Washington.

The Rangers are among the teams pursuing the Hurricanes in the Metropolitan Division. Carolina has a division-leading 88 points, but four teams are at 80 or more points. That list includes the Rangers, who are in third place at 83.

"All you can control is your effort you put forward each night," Rangers center Barclay Goodrow said. "If you start looking too far in advance, you start letting games slip away. I think we've been doing a pretty good job of that (necessary focus)."

New York won 2-1 on Saturday night at Tampa Bay on Mika Zibanejad's power-play goal in the final minute. That was the Rangers' third win in their past four games.

New York coach Gerard Gallant said goalie Alexandar Georgiev would be used Sunday after the team went with Igor Shesterkin against the Lightning. Shesterkin had 28 saves Saturday.

Even though the Rangers will play a top-tier team for the second night in a row, Gallant said it's not necessarily a preview of playoff-level competition.

"We've got to get in the playoffs first," he said. "We've got to play good hockey. We've got to make sure we get in."

The Hurricanes could receive a boost with the anticipated return of Tony DeAngelo, who has missed the past 11 games with an upper-body injury. With 40 points, he remains the team's top-producing defenseman.

DeAngelo is in his first season with the Hurricanes after arriving from the Rangers. He logged a goal and two assists against his former team when the Rangers visited Raleigh in January.

If DeAngelo is back in the lineup, coach Rod Brind'Amour will have decisions to make regarding who's in uniform. Brendan Smith has been back for two games since sitting out 10 games because of a fractured bone in his skull.

"That's good for my individual psyche, I guess," Smith said of getting back into a groove.

Carolina holds a 23-4-3 mark on home ice. The Hurricanes will try to match the franchise record for consecutive games with points at home. That standard is 15 set in 2005-06.

The Rangers have been solid in road games with a 19-12-2 record.

--Field Level Media

Season Series
CarolinaStatsNY Rangers
3-1-0Vs1-3-0
14Goals10
10.0Shot %9.5
22.2Power Play %16.7
57.2Faceoff %42.8