It's a matter of regrouping in a variety of ways for the Carolina Hurricanes as they suffered losses of various degrees during the past week.
Most notable is the broken leg suffered by all-star defenseman Dougie Hamilton, meaning they're without their most productive blue liner and a team leader.There hasn't been much time to absorb the impact of that situation for the Hurricanes, who take on the New York Islanders on Sunday in Raleigh, N.C.
The Hurricanes have lost three games in a row, though they managed to pull out a team point with Friday night's overtime game against the Anaheim Ducks.
The Islanders lost 6-4 to the Washington Capitals on Saturday afternoon, unable to hold a three-goal lead in a home game. This is a challenging stretch for New York.
"We can't look back, we have to look forward all the time," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. "It's a tough stretch, a lot of divisional stuff and a lot of points on the line."
The Hurricanes could receive a boost if right winger Justin Williams, 38, makes his season debut.
The team reported late Saturday afternoon that he's in line to be in the lineup Sunday.
Hamilton suffered the injury Thursday night at Columbus. The next day he underwent surgery. When he missed Friday's game, it ended a string of 255 consecutive games played, a mark that was the 13th-longest active streak in the NHL.
"Anytime he's out, we're going to miss him. Obviously, the power play, Dougie makes that a heckuva lot better," said Carolina defenseman Jaccob Slavin, who will replace Hamilton as Carolina's representative in the upcoming All-Star Weekend. "We have the pieces."
Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said the team needs to find the right combinations because Hamilton will be out of the lineup indefinitely.
"That's a huge part of our team missing," Brind'Amour said. "He's arguably our No. 1 guy on everything, plays every situation and we count on him quite a bit. All teams go through this at some point and we'll see how we respond."
Brind'Amour said there might be mixing and matching with defensive pairings until he sees something that appears to click. Slavin and Brett Pesce could be tagged to take some of the roles previously held by Hamilton.
"There are a lot of options to try going forward," Brind'Amour said.
Carolina defenseman Joel Edmundson notched his 12th point of the season with an assist Friday night. That's one more point than he had in 64 games last season with the St. Louis Blues.
The Islanders will be playing their fifth game in a seven-day stretch. They're 1-3-0 so far in that stretch in what has been a ragged month. New York has been outscored 12-6 in three January road games.
Special teams have been problematic for the Islanders at times.
"We're going to look at some things and re-assess it, as we always do," Trotz said.
The Hurricanes won 5-2 on Oct. 11 at home in the only previous matchup of the season.
Carolina has a sense of urgency as well.
"These last two games before break, we've got to find a way to get four points here," Slavin said.
The Hurricanes have gone four consecutive games without scoring more than two goals.
"I think everyone is squeezing it a little bit," Jordan Staal said of the pressure offensively. "We have to just go out and grind and get to the net and do the simple things. ... We have to get back to our game. It hasn't been there in a while."
--Field Level Media