Kings’ visit caps Hurricanes’ lengthy homestand


The Carolina Hurricanes have a good understanding that strong beginnings to games can set the proper tone.

The Los Angeles Kings have found out that the hard way too often this season.

The teams meet on Saturday night at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., with both aiming for productive opening stretches.

“We’ve had a lot of great starts,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “It hasn’t always translated for us. We want to jump on teams, at home especially.”

The game marks the last assignment in the Hurricanes’ seven-game homestand. They’re 4-2 so far after two consecutive victories.

Yet some of the biggest news they’ve made during this stretch came off the ice. The Hurricanes signed former captain Justin Williams earlier this week, but he didn’t play Friday night in Carolina’s 3-0 victory against the Arizona Coyotes, and he might need more practice time before he’s ready for a game.

The Hurricanes had nine of the game’s first 11 shots on goal Friday night.

“The start is always important, and we kept building,” Carolina center Martin Necas said.

The Kings, who have the second-lowest point total in the Western Conference, ended a three-game losing streak Thursday with a 5-2 road victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. Los Angeles endured some shaky moments, seeing a four-goal lead cut in half, before recovering.

“I think we have great leaders in the room,” goalie Jack Campbell said of the team’s ability to respond.

But the good start was the key for the Kings.

“When we score first, it’s amazing how well we can play,” said Campbell, who made 44 saves at Las Vegas. “To be a really good team in this league, you’ve got to make sure you’re bringing that every night.”

Before the Vegas game, the Kings had a total of four goals across their first three games in January, all defeats.

Adrian Kempe scored two goals for the Kings against the Golden Knights.

The visit to Carolina marks the fourth game in six days for Los Angeles. The Kings will be playing the second game of a five-game road trip, with the rest of it also on the East Coast, before having their bye week. They have only one more home game the rest of the month.

The Kings could encounter Williams for Saturday’s game if he’s activated. He won two Stanley Cup titles with the Los Angeles organization (2012 and 2014) after winning one with Carolina (2006).

Brind’Amour said it’s important to keep players sharp, and that could be a challenge as lineup adjustments will come when Williams is on the ice.

“It’s hard to have guys in and out,” Brind’Amour said. “It doesn’t really help them.”

The Hurricanes have a decision to make regarding the goaltending after Petr Mrazek’s 32-save shutout of the Coyotes on Friday night. Brind’Amour said dividing the weekend goalie duties might not be an easy choice after that.

“You think about it when he’s playing that well, but there’s a lot of hockey coming right around the corner,” Brind’Amour said after Mrazek’s third shutout of the season. “We have to be careful, but when you see (Mrazek) play that well …”

The Hurricanes are feeling good about their depth, even before Williams joins the action.

“We can play all four lines, so that’s important,” said Necas, who is tied for third among NHL rookies with 10 goals.

–Field Level Media

Source: Yahoo Sports

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