|Looking to keep pace in division, 'Canes visit Oilers|
Through 30 games of the 2019-20 season, the Carolina Hurricanes have been victorious 18 times. But even that good start is barely good enough right now.
Carolina's first stop on its five-game road trip is in Edmonton on Tuesday to play the Oilers. The road swing ends in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 19.
But the standout play atop the Metropolitan Division has left the Hurricanes currently gridding in the second spot in the wild-card chase, behind the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Washington Capitals (NHL-best 49 points), New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers slot into the division's top three spots, leaving the Penguins and Hurricanes hanging on as the season's halfway point draws near.
Young superstar Sebastian Aho and winger Teuvo Teravainen could be vital players the Hurricanes turn to in order to help them climb up the standings.
Aho, 22, recorded a hat trick and career-best five points in a 6-2 win to beat the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night in Raleigh, N.C. He owns a team-high 16 goals for Carolina.
Teravainen, 25, notched three assists against the Wild and tops the club in helpers with 22.
Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said the exciting duo play with a strong bond between them.
"The two of them have always had some chemistry together," Brind'Amour said. "When they're engaged like that, playing well away from the puck, then they're a real special group because they create more chances."
The Hurricanes are 9-4-0 in their last 13 contests and 8-6-1 on the road.
Tuesday night's meeting in Edmonton will conclude the Oilers' four-game homestand before they head to Minnesota on Thursday.
The Oilers have been treading water over their last 11 games, posting a 5-4-2 mark, and no game may have been more emblematic of their frustration than Sunday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
Edmonton battled back from a two-goal deficit in the first period behind second-period tallies by Riley Sheahan and Joakim Nygard.
However, Colin Miller produced his first goal as a member of the Sabres in the extra period to dash Edmonton's hopes of adding to the comeback.
Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom said he and the team are having a tough time isolating their problem.
"It's tough to say what's wrong," Klefbom told reporters after the defeat. "We've tried to get a winning streak going here, but it's not going to happen if we're not ready from the start. We can't expect to always be coming back from 2-0.
"We should be in the front seat in a game like this and outwork these guys."
Though neither Connor McDavid nor Leon Draisaitl registered a point in the loss, the pair -- the top two scorers in the NHL -- continue to lead the Oilers and are constructing fantastic seasons.
Draisaitl and McDavid share the team lead with 19 goals, and Draisaitl's 34 assists are just one more than McDavid.
The German-born Draisaitl is on pace for a 136-point season while McDavid, Edmonton's captain, is holding steady with a 133-point pace.
The two teams complete their two-game season series on Feb. 16 in Raleigh.
--Field Level Media