In a strange season filled with two-game series against just seven opponents, the Carolina Hurricanes are taking advantage of standalone games.
Currently riding a four-game winning streak, Carolina welcomes the Florida Panthers to Raleigh, N.C, Sunday for a late afternoon contest in the fourth meeting between the teams.
Playing three times in four days, the Panthers will then head to Columbus for a pair of games against the Blue Jackets, while the Hurricanes settle into their home digs for a two-game series against the Nashville Predators.
The single game like the one against Florida has appeared frequently on Carolina's schedule due to interruptions and schedule reworking by the league.
Sunday's match -- Carolina's 24th in the 56-game campaign -- will be the Hurricanes' eighth lone meeting against a team, either at home or on the road, and the third this week.
On Tuesday, Carolina won 4-2 in Nashville, and they followed that up with a 5-2 home victory over Detroit on Thursday.
The wins improved third-year coach Rod Brind'Amour's club to 6-0-1 in non-series contests against its Central Division foes. The only blemish was a 4-3 home loss to Florida on Feb. 17 when the Panthers' Jonathan Huberdeau deked goalie Alex Nedeljkovic on an overtime breakaway.
The Hurricanes had to produce a three-goal third period Thursday to reward Brind'Amour with his 100th career victory as a head coach.
Jordan Staal (goal, two assists), Jesper Fast (goal, assist) and Nino Niederreiter (goal, assist) all tallied in the final 20 minutes for Carolina.
"We just decided we had to get to our game," Brind'Amour said. "We were fighting it the whole night trying to find an easier way. We were fortunate to be tied going into the third. The guys just started playing."
At Florida on Sunday and Monday, Carolina notched two of its four wins in its streak in a shootout and overtime.
The Panthers have rebounded with a pair of strong wins in Nashville, the second one Saturday's 6-2 victory that was highlighted by Noel Acciari's hat trick -- the first three goals for him this season.
Tied 1-1 after Aaron Ekblad's goal with 13 seconds left in the opening period, Acciari took it from there.
The fourth-line winger produced three of the team's final five goals, including two in a three-goal second period that pushed the Panthers past Nashville.
His first finished off a two-on-one rush. The second came on a distant shot by defenseman Keith Yandle from the red line, with Acciari cleaning up the long rebound with a backhander.
The Rhode Island native recorded his final marker -- his first career power-play goal -- by taking a couple of swipes at the puck before it went in with 3:02 left, giving him his third career hat trick.
Strangely, he produced back-to-back hat tricks in December 2019, turning the tricks on home ice against Ottawa and Dallas. The third tally against the Stars was on a penalty shot.
"I've just been gripping the stick a little too tight and couldn't find my scoring touch," said Acciari, who had 20 goals in his first season with Florida in 2019-20. "A lot of guys are putting pressure on me now about tomorrow."
The league's top ironman, Yandle is expected to skate in his 1,000th career game against Carolina. His active streak of 888 consecutive games played is the third-most in NHL history.
--Field Level Media