The games are running out and the odds are still long, but the Carolina Hurricanes don't really care. They're just winning and trying to make things interesting.
As Eric Staal said Sunday, "Stranger things have happened."
The Canes made it three straight wins Sunday night and did it with a second straight road comeback. Trailing the Winnipeg Jets by a goal in the third period at MTS Centre, the Canes rallied to win 4-3 as Staal tied the score and Chad LaRose won it with 1:22 remaining in regulation.
The Canes evened their record at 29-29-15, moving into 11th place in the Eastern Conference with 73 points. With nine games left, the Canes trail the eighth-place Washington Capitals by five points.
"We're in a market where nobody ever talks about us but our record has been strong," Canes coach Kirk Muller said. "We've come back in a lot of games lately. There's a lot of fight in our group.
"We don't know what's going to happen at the end but we're creeping up. These are back-to-back comeback wins. We just knocked off St. Louis. These guys are going hard. They believe in how they're playing. We'll see what happens."
The Canes left for a two-game road swing after a 2-0 win over the Blues on Thursday at PNC Arena. Jeff Skinner was suspended for the two games, and Carolina also trailed in the third period Saturday against the Minnesota Wild before surging to a 5-3 win.
On Sunday, Staal had a pair of goals and assisted on the winner by LaRose -- who scored for the third straight game -- that came on a shot from the right circle. Jussi Jokinen scored shorthanded for the Canes' first goal and had a pair of assists.
Jets fans at the MTS Centre chanted "Jordan's better, Jordan's better" during the game -- referring to Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins and an attempt to get under the skin of Eric Staal. It backfired badly as Staal scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season.
"I enjoyed it," Staal said of the game. "It's our playoffs for us right now. It was that type of atmosphere and our guys responded with a great effort and great third period, and it was a good win. Our guys showed a lot of resilience."
And about that chant?
"Jordan's good but I don't know if he's better," Eric said, smiling. "They probably regretted the chant as the game went on."
The Canes had to play without forward Andreas Nodl after he was flattened by the Jets' Zach Bogosian at 10:41 of the second period. Bogosian was given a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct.
"He took the strides, he left his feet," Muller said of the play. "That's charging. That was the right call."
There was no update after the game on Nodl's condition.
Staal scored his first goal on a second-period power play. His second goal, at 10:24 of the third, tied the score 3-3 and came on a breakaway off a well-executed stretch pass from Jokinen.
The Jets, highly aggressive the first half of the game, appeared to be on their heels in the third. Two points behind the Caps when the game began, they lost a chance to make up the ground.
"We put the pressure on them in the third period," said goaltender Cam Ward, who had 30 saves. "We kept the pressure going and going until we were finally able to break them.
"Ultimately we were led by Staaler. He put us on his shouders and was dominant."
Muller seconded that opinion, saying of the team captain, "I think he's clearly one of the top four or five guys in the NHL right now. Look at the points he's picking up, he's a plus player, on the power play, killing penalties, winning crucial faceoffs for us. He's been an unbelievable leader."
The Canes next face the Florida Panthers, the Southeast Division leaders, Wednesday at PNC Arena. Catching the Panthers may be out of the question but there still meaningful hockey left to be played.