The Hurricanes have nine games remaining and it's time to start considering when they might be eliminated from playoff contention unless there's an incredible sprint to the finish.
"We have a bunch of guys now who are just scratching and clawing," coach Kirk Muller said. "They've adjusted and they're playing for each other. It's all sacrifice to try to win."
The Hurricanes hold a three-game winning streak after Sunday night's 4-3 victory at Winnipeg.
The work ethic has been consistent during the past month and that's something that has been a foundation under Muller, who has been in his role for less than four months.
"We're playing well. We've been in a playoff mode for a long time now," captain Eric Staal said, pointing out the level of desperation confronting the team. "We're playing well now. As a team and as a group, we're working our butts off."
With a limited number of chances remaining to make a move, the Hurricanes face a crucial assignment Wednesday night at home against Southeast Division-leading Florida.
-Goalie Brian Boucher made a nice return to a starting role when he picked up a victory Saturday at Minnesota.
"It's nice to get that game out of the way and to get a win out of it is doubly nice," Boucher said.
With a stretch of six games in nine days, it was a good opportunity to use Boucher again. He hadn't been in the net in more than three months before making 23 saves against the Wild.
"That's a long stretch to not play. He's a good veteran guy," coach Kirk Muller said, though he had Boucher back in a backup role Sunday night at Winnipeg.
-The Hurricanes rushed to have defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti return to the team for his second promotion in less than a week's time. It came about because of another injury to defenseman Jaroslav Spacek. The good break for the Hurricanes came with the latest injury to Spacek coming in an afternoon game, so even with games on back-to-back days, there was extra time between the games that gave Sanguinetti extra time to make it to Winnipeg, where the Hurricanes played Sunday night.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"This time of year you need it. If you're going to be a passenger and don't want to be involved, you can't play these games." -- Coach Kirk Muller, on the team's increased chippiness in some recent games.