Mon, 23 May 2022

Hurricanes hope to tighten up defense vs. Knights

Field Level Media
25 Jan 2022, 17:55 GMT+10

The Carolina Hurricanes, who pride themselves on their work at the defensive end, will look to shake off a rare defensive slip-up when they oppose the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday in Raleigh, N.C.

Carolina yielded a season-high goal total Saturday in a 7-4 road loss to the New Jersey Devils.The Hurricanes hope they experienced just a blip and not the start of a trend.

"It's not our game," Carolina defenseman Brady Skjei said. "We've got to learn from this. Everyone in the locker room knows this is not the way we play."

The defeat featured the first professional start for Hurricanes goalie Jack LaFontaine, who was playing college hockey for the University of Minnesota just a couple of weeks earlier. He was reassigned to Carolina's taxi squad on Monday.

LaFontaine was signed hurriedly when Antti Raanta got hurt and the franchise's top two minor league goalies also were injured.

While it was a rough introduction for LaFontaine, the Hurricanes were more concerned about the defense in front of the goalie. Heading into mid-January, Carolina had given up more than four goals only once this season, in a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Nov. 6. Now the team has yielded six and seven across a five-game stretch.

"We usually don't give many chances," Skjei said. "It doesn't matter who's in net."

The Hurricanes figure to have Frederik Andersen back in the crease on Tuesday. However, Raanta was active as the backup on Saturday, and he posted a victory earlier in the season against the Knights.

Vegas faces a goaltending decision on Tuesday, too, after Robin Lehner recorded a 34-save shutout of the Washington Capitals in a 1-0 road win on Monday.

The Golden Knights were playing their first road game since Dec. 28 after an eight-game homestand in which they went 3-3-2.

Vegas is now in the midst of four road games in six nights against top Eastern Conference contenders, with visits to Florida and Tampa Bay coming on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

"We know what we're facing here with this gauntlet of teams," Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said. "I think the guys are excited about the opportunity to play some of these teams."

Golden Knights center Brett Howden said this week provides "really big statement games and obviously big games for us to kind of see where we're at. ... I think road trips are great for getting everybody together."

DeBoer said the Golden Knights are healthier than they have been in quite some time, with four lines and seven defensemen available for practice prior to the Washington game. However, captain Mark Stone was in COVID-19 protocol and wasn't on the beginning part of the trip.

For the Hurricanes, the New Jersey game marked the first time this season that left winger Teuvo Teravainen was out of the lineup. He sustained a lower-body injury a night earlier against the New York Rangers but was back on the ice for Monday's practice.

Carolina's Josh Leivo was in the lineup for just the fifth time this season, and he posted his first goal and his second assist.

It was a clunky trip on several fronts for the Hurricanes. Because of a wintry storm, they didn't depart late Friday night, instead delaying the travel until morning. As a result, center Martin Necas had been cleared from COVID protocol, so he was on board and was back in action after sitting out two games. He contributed an assist.

Carolina beat the Golden Knights 4-2 on Nov. 16 at Las Vegas.

--Field Level Media

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