With the Canes playing their fourth game in six days, and playing at home, it might be natural to exhale. That's what coach Paul Maurice is worried about tonight.
The Canes have twice faced the Washington Capitals and been to Boston since Wednesday, and all three were physical games. Tonight, it's a Western Conference team, the Dallas Stars, at the RBC Center.
"It's four in six against size," Maurice said today. "Washington is a big team. Boston plays a big game. And then these guys will do that.
"You do worry about (exhaling). (The Stars) have played some hockey, too. It is an advantage that they rested last night. But the natural tendency is to come off it a little bit and try to find an easier way to do it."
Maurice said it was much like when the Canes faced the Pittsburgh Penguins in a fast-paced game in Pittsburgh, only to return to the RBC Center the next night to face the Nashville Predators. The Preds kept things to a crawl and then won in a shootout.
"It's so much like the Nashville setup we had," Maurice said. "The style of game is similar to them, a good grinding team. I'm expecting that kind of game.
"That's what Nashville and Dallas want to do: come out and grind you to the point you don't want to play that game anymore."
The Stars (13-8-1) have won the last three and are 5-1-1 in their last seven. They've won in Ottawa and St. Louis in their last two road games, both by 2-1 scores.
Dallas hasn't won at the RBC Center since the 2003-2004 season.
Maurice said he'd like to see the Canes "get in the fight early" after a slow start Sunday against the Caps. Carolina fell behind 2-0 in the first period and was fighting uphill the rest of the way, tying the score 2-2 on Eric Staal's goal with 2.2 seconds left in regulation.
"Think body first -- that's what was missing in the first period at Washington," he said. "We had two hits in the first, then 11 in the second and were a much better team."
Maurice said the Canes came out of the Caps game healthy.