For the Hurricanes, tonight's elimination game — their season in the balance — against the Devils may be both nerve-wracking and fun, if that's possible.
"I kind of like this situation," forward Tuomo Ruutu said. "You can put everything on the line and you really don't have to worry about the next game, because if you don't play well enough there's not going to be a next game. You play this game like it's your last game almost."
Center Eric Staal used the "backs-against-the-wall" line, like most of his teammates, but said he was more excited than nervous.
"We've got to get it done in our building," he said. "It's going to be a lot of fun.
"There's nothing to save it for. There's nothing to lose. For us, it's about this one game and we'll focus in having a good start and getting everybody involved, getting our crowd involved and having some fun."
Goaltender Cam Ward said it was important the Canes "enjoy the game and you play with some confidence. You don't want to come to the rink uptight, knowing the what-ifs if we lose.
"Nothing but positive thoughts today."
The Canes were in good spirits at the morning skate and the chatter level high. Some of it could have been nervous energy but the mood was light.
Asked if he liked his team appearing so loose, Canes coach Paul Maurice said, "Absolutely. I'll say excited and you say loose.
"I think there's an important element of excitement about a possibility and opportunity. You don't want to see that tightness and that concern about the situation we're in. I would say we were excited."
And the coaches?
"Excited," he said.