RALEIGH On Feb. 16, less than two weeks before the NHL trade deadline, Hurricanes coach Bill Peters called on his team to prove to Carolina GM Ron Francis should be a buyer rather than a seller before March 1.”We gotta play good. We have to go on a run,” Peters said. “We have to play our best hockey coming down the stretch here. There’s 29 games left and we’ve gotta get into playoff battle mode soon. Sooner rather than later.”Sooner didn’t happen, with Carolina going 1-3-2 the rest of February. Francis shipped out veterans Ron Hainsey and Victor Stalberg, and the Hurricanes looked like they were racing to the draft lottery instead of the playoff hunt.But a funny thing happened about a week and a half later: Carolina started piling up points, and they haven’t stopped. The Hurricanes’ franchise-long 13-game point streak started March 9 and will carry into April. Here’s a game-by-game look at how Peters and the Hurricanes re-entered the playoff picture with their run.March 9, Rangers â¨at Hurricanes, W, 4-3Carolina’s run has been fueled in part by their third-period play, and that started with the win over the Rangers. Rookie Sebastian Aho reached 20 goals on the season with two third-period power play goals to lift Carolina to a win.March 11, Maple Leafs â¨at Hurricanes, L 3-2 (OT)This felt like a backbreaker because Carolina was then chasing Toronto. It started bad (Valentin Zykov, coming off a goal in his NHL debut vs. the Rangers, was injured in the game’s first minute) and ended worse when Morgan Rielly fired home the game-winner in overtime for the Leafs.March 13, Hurricanes â¨at Islanders; W 8-4Carolina found their road mojo starting here, unleashing an offensive pounding on the Isles for the third time in as many meetings. Jaccob Slavin registered a hat trick, and both Jeff Skinner and Justin Faulk added a pair of goals.March 14, Islanders â¨at Hurricanes, L 3-2 (OT)The back end of the home-and-home gave New York their first win in the season series. Islanders captain John Tavares shook off an otherwise pedestrian effort to score in overtime to send Carolina to one of 14 post-regulation losses they have on the season.March 16, Wild â¨at Hurricanes, W 3-1The return of Eric Staal was more about the resurgence of Carolina goalie Eddie Lack. Coming off a win and loss in his previous two starts against the NHL’s two worst teams in Arizona and Colorado, respectively, Lack stood tall against Minnesota and his team’s former captain, stopping 30 shots to earn the win.March 18, Predators â¨at Hurricanes, W 4-2Skinner’s two goals started a torrid run for him that’s still going, and Lack earned consecutive wins for the first time in more than 13 months.March 19, Hurricanes â¨at Flyers, L 4-3 (OT)The Hurricanes couldn’t hold on to a one-goal lead, allowing a goal by Philadelphia’s Travis Konecny with 43 seconds left to force overtime. Then Carolina’s 3-on-3 woes continued when Brayden Schenn won it for the Flyers just 38 seconds into OT.March 21, Hurricanes â¨at Flyers, W 4-3Skinner pushed his goal streak to three games with a game-tying tally early in the second period and the game-winner with less than four minutes left in the game to give Carolina the win. Aho added his first-career shorthanded goal, and Cam Ward backstopped the Hurricanes with 32 stops.March 23, Hurricanes â¨at Canadiens, W 4-1For a team that looked so bad on the road all season, Carolina waltzed into hallowed Montreal and left with an easy two points. The Canadiens got on the board first, but it was all Carolina from there, with Lee Stempniak scoring twice in the victory.March 25, Hurricanes â¨at Devils, W 3-1In what felt like a trap game Carolina came into the night 0-2-1 against the lottery-bound Devils Lack stopped 26 of 27 and Aho scored twice to push the Hurricanes’ point streak into double-digit games.March 27, Red Wings â¨at Hurricanes, L 4-3 (OT)Faulk’s goal his second of the night in the final minute with Lack on the bench for the extra attacker salvaged a point, but Andreas Athanasiou won it for Detroit in overtime on a play that was overshadowed by his collision with and subsequent injury to Lack. Lack was stretchered off the ice and taken to the hospital, but tests revealed the best-case scenario: a neck strain.March 28, Red Wings â¨at Hurricanes, W 4-1In the rematch the next night the first game was a makeup for the game postponed Dec. 19 due to ice cooling issues at PNC Arena Carolina took advantage of a Detroit team playing three games in three nights, jumping out to a three-goal lead en route to the win.March 30, Blue Jackets â¨at Hurricanes, W 2-1 (OT)Late-game heroics were again the order of the day, with Skinner having seen his six-game goal streak snapped in the win over Detroit scoring the game-tying goal with less than five minutes remaining and then assisting on Noah Hanifin’s overtime winner.With six games remaining, Carolina (84 points) still trails the Bruins (88) by four points, though Boston has only five left. The Lightning (85) also stand in the Hurricanes’ way with six to play before the end of the regular season.The Hurricanes may need points in all their remaining games (home Saturday against Dallas, then at Pittsburgh, at Minnesota, home vs. the Islanders and Blues, then closing the season at Philadelphia on April 9) to bypass both Tampa Bay and Boston.Who, at this point, would doubt they could do it?
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