The Carolina Hurricanes enter the week on top of the Central Division standings at 29-10-4 (62 points) just ahead of fellow Florida foes Panthers (61 points) and Tampa Bay (60 points). The race for first place will take a pivotal turn as Carolina heads to Tampa Bay for a more than important back-to-back two-game series Monday and Tuesday night.
Carolina heads to the sunshine state winners of two straight most recently defeating the Nashville Predators by the scores of 4-1 and 3-1 in Raleigh erasing the bad taste of dropping two games to last-place Detroit. Overall the Hurricanes have won three of their last five outings while also defeating Tampa in their last two meetings.
With the trade deadline in view this past Monday, Carolina made a single move trading former first-round draft pick defenceman Hayden Fleury to the Anaheim Ducks for Jani Hakanpaa and a 2022 sixth-round pick. Hakanpaa made his presence known quickly as he scored the game-winner in the Hurricanes 3-1 victory over Nashville Saturday night. Hakanpaa brings a physical aspect to the blue line that has been missing and needed this season.
Sebastian Aho leads the Canes in goals (18) and total points (40) followed by Vincent Trocheck with 17 goals and 37 points. After their two-game trip in Tampa, the Hurricanes will then stay in Florida for another important two-game series against the Florida Panthers on Thursday and Saturday.