Grieving Hurricanes host Devils
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RALEIGH, N.C. -- Expect emotions to be flowing in certain ways when the Carolina Hurricanes play at home for the first time in a week.
It has been a largely saddened franchise.
Captain Jordan Staal's infant daughter died, resulting in grief throughout the organization and an outpouring of support.
Staal announced this week that she died from a terminal birth defect. After a three-game absence, he returned to action Thursday night, but his first game on home ice is bound to create emotions on the ice and in the stands.
On Friday night, the Hurricanes are home against the New Jersey Devils.
The Hurricanes expect to have Staal back on a regular basis as the team continues to express support for the player's family.
"As a person, he's off the charts," Carolina coach Bill Peters said, referring to Staal's character. "When he was gone, you see that we missed him. ... He'll be a factor going forward. He plays in all situations. You need your best players to be your best players and we miss him when he's not here. Good to have him back."
From a hockey standpoint, Staal's absence was perhaps most evident in faceoffs as the Hurricanes were hurting at times in puck possession.
Combined with Sunday's home game against Winnipeg, these will be Carolina's only home games before a three-game road stretch that will encompass more than a week.
The Hurricanes snapped a six-game losing streak with the 4-1 victory Thursday against Philadelphia.
"We stayed with it and did a good job and now we have to do the same thing (Friday) back home," Peters said.
The Devils weren't so fortunate Thursday night with a 3-2 loss at Florida. But in that game, Taylor Hall extended the NHL's longest points streak this season by scoring a goal.
Hall has at least one point in the last 23 games in which he has played, establishing a franchise record.
"We're putting together games that deserves (to be won)," Hall said.
The Devils figure they might have made it through one of the roughest grinds. Now, they want to be poised to make a push into the Eastern Conference playoffs.
"I don't think we have to change a whole lot," Hall said. "Getting through a brutal stretch of schedule that we just did ... now it's about going out and executing."
New Jersey had won three consecutive road games prior to Thursday's loss.
The Hurricanes will be without center Joakim Nordstrom, who suffered an eye injury Tuesday night in Boston.
"He's going to be a while," Peters said of Nordstrom's absence. "Vision-wise, he's going to be fine."
The Devils activated Cory Schneider to work in goal at Florida. With that, they assigned goalie Eddie Lack to Binghamton of the American Hockey League.
That means Lack, who last year played for the Hurricanes, won't have a chance against his former team. He didn't play in net in either of last month's Carolina-New Jersey meetings.
This will be the third meeting between the teams in slightly more than two weeks. The Devils won both previous matchups, including in overtime in Raleigh.
Updated March 1, 2018