Canucks seek improved performance vs. Hurricanes

The Vancouver Canucks are supposed to be at the bottom of the standings, not in a playoff fight at this point of the season.

Yet, as they prepare to head into the NHL All-Star break, the Canucks are right in the playoff mix.

Vancouver plays host to the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night, and a win would send the Canucks into the break sitting in one of the Western Conference wild-card positions.

Curiously, they're not exactly happy with how they're playing.

"We've found ways to win hockey games when we haven't played our best. That's a positive," Canucks coach Travis Green said. "You want consistency from our group. We haven't (played) the game we want, but we've had the results we want."

One issue is an inability to control possession.

"We're not placing pucks where they should be, getting in on the forecheck enough," Vancouver forward Bo Horvat said. "I think that's why we haven't been getting off to great starts. If we get in on forechecks better and (hem) them in, that's going to be better for us."

Undoubtedly, the Western Conference wild-card battle has become something of a classic turtle derby with every team in the chase posting mediocre records and no squad appearing poised to pull away from the pack. Therefore, the Canucks are right in the hunt thanks to a 3-0-2 run over the past 10 days.

However, the news is improving in Vancouver with Elias Pettersson, who leads all NHL rookie with 44 points, back in action. In the Canucks' latest game, Pettersson scored a goal and set up the game-winning tally in a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, not that he was impressed with his performance.

"A little bit off," Pettersson said of his first game back after missing five games due to a knee injury. "I felt I lost the puck a few times and made some bad decisions and bad turnovers. I've got to play it simple and learn when it's not going as well as I want it. Just play it simple. It was mostly that I lost the puck a few times and it led to turnovers. I've just got to get better."

The Hurricanes are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss at Calgary on Tuesday, a game in which they held a 35-25 edge in shots and had every right to win.

"Unfortunately we've had too many of those kind of results," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour told FAN 960 in Calgary after the disappointing defeat. "We're in the game and it could go our way, and it hasn't enough. That's why we are where we are. I loved the effort of our group."

The Hurricanes have one win and one extra-time defeat to start their current road trip, keeping an Eastern Conference playoff spot within viewing distance. However, the Canucks will have two extra days of rest heading into the Wednesday matchup.

"We came in here (to Calgary) against one of the best teams and in my opinion could have had this game," Brind'Amour said. "The hard part is picking up the guys. They have to play a team that's sitting there waiting. And (the Canucks are) in the same boat as us, scrapping. It won't be easy, but our group's been pretty resilient all year."

Carolina also has an injury concern, as Micheal Ferland left in the second period Tuesday and did not play in the third. Ferland missed the Sunday game in Edmonton due to a back issue.

"He was having a good game. More precautionary," Brind'Amour said of Ferland's shortened outing Tuesday.

--Field Level Media

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