Hurricanes, Oilers trying to stay in playoff picture


RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes will have to be efficient to make the necessary elevation in the Eastern Conference standings to reach the playoff level.

They play a team Tuesday night at PNC Arena that's in worse shape in the Western Conference. That's the Edmonton Oilers.

Just about every time the Hurricanes look to be down for the count, they give themselves a chance.

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"I think our group has got mental toughness, I really do," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "We've had a few gut punches this year. We've had a few here recently. You have to pick yourself up off the canvass and keep going."

Carolina snapped a three-game losing streak with Sunday's 4-3 road decision over the New York Islanders. That marked only the second victory for the Hurricanes during a seven-game stretch.

"I thought five-on-five we were real good," Peters said, noting that penalties have been troublesome. "If we clean that part of the game up, we'll be a better team coming down the stretch."

The game might have produced the best performance of the season from center Victor Rask, Peters said. That's the type of emerging efforts the Hurricanes will require in order to climb back into playoff position.

Carolina has only five home games remaining. The Hurricanes are 16-14-6 on home ice, so they must win their remaining games in front of their fans in order to win a majority of their home games for the season.

"Everyone knows how to play," said Peters, who gave the team Monday off. "If that's the matchup you draw, you have to go out and win that matchup."

Edmonton has shown some recent life with a 4-2-1 stretch in its last seven games.

"I try to give this team a chance," Oilers goalie Al Montoya said.

Yet frustration continues to mount for the Oilers because they've failed so often on power plays. They have the fewest power-play goals in the league, a situation that was magnified with the 0-of-5 performance in man advantages in Sunday's 3-1 loss at Tampa Bay.

"That's been the tale of the tape lately with the power play," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said.

Yet McLellan isn't calling for an overhaul on the power-play units.

"Sometimes it's asking them just to relax," McLellan said. "Right now, we're squeezing the sticks a little bit in that situation. We're so desperate for a power-play goal that when we do create an opportunity we're not finishing it. ... The power play has to get better."

It's certainly a topic that's festering.

"I don't know how much more we can do on the power play without scoring a goal," Oilers center Ryan Strome said. "We've been playing some good hockey lately, but (there's) a bad taste in our mouth."

On Monday, the Oilers recalled defenseman Dillon Simpson on an emergency basis from Bakersfield of the American Hockey League. He has played three career NHL games with the Oilers.

Perhaps Simpson can have a similar impact to right winger Ty Rattie, who was called up for Bakersfield last week and scored two goals in two games.

For the Oilers, Tuesday's game is the third stop on a four-game East Coast trip.

Carolina won the first meeting of the season with the Oilers, claiming a 5-3 decision on Oct. 17. That marked the team's first road victory of the season. Teuvo Teravainen registered two goals in that game.

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