NHL

Aho, Hurricanes set to face Oilers, McDavid

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid isn't the only young emerging star gathering attention these days.

Carolina Hurricanes right winger Sebastian Aho is receiving a large dose of praise as well.

Their teams meet Friday night at PNC Arena.

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McDavid has been on the radar from the get-go as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft, while Aho has been putting together a nice rookie season after he was selected 35th in 2015. Aho's talent was magnified in Carolina's most recent game when he registered his first hat trick Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers.

"He's settling in in North America, settling in the NHL," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "He has gained confidence by playing well, playing hard. The thing nobody talks about with (Aho) is how competitive he is. He's a competitive guy."

Aho, 19, has excelled at times on a line with Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm.

"I try to play a simpler game, go to the net, shoot the puck," Aho said. "I've got some confidence. ... It's pretty easy to go to the net."

Peters said it will take the entire team's attention in order to keep tabs on McDavid, a 20-year-old in his second NHL season. McDavid has 59 points in 53 games this season.

"He sees the game at a high, high level," Peters said. "He's physically hard to contain. He's going to have the puck a lot. He's a factor in each and every game that you see him. A dangerous, dangerous hockey team."

The Friday night game is the Oilers' third contest in a stretch of four games in six nights. The sequence precedes a five-day break.

"It feels busy," Edmonton coach Todd McLellan said, pointing out he would like the Oilers to build on their playoff position. "You have to win some games to do that."

The Oilers were involved in what was expected to be an emotional game Thursday night at Nashville because the teams had a feisty previous encounter. The 2-0 loss dropped Edmonton to 0-2 since the All-Star break.

Whether the energy can be restored quickly will be vital for the Oilers.

"I don't think you can count on it being that way every night just based on the schedule," McLellan said.

The Oilers are 7-3-1 in their past 11 games, yet there could be some line shuffling.

"We have to look at the lineup and see how individuals or groups may be getting stale," McLellan said.

Oilers left winger Patrick Maroon said the team is trending in the right direction in general. Yet these next couple of games are crucial before another layoff.

"We all know we have the offense, but we have to focus on defense," Maroon said despite the shutout Thursday night. "We have to get points in every single game. These are huge points for us."

Peters said he liked how the Hurricanes came out in the 5-1 romp past Philadelphia.

"The guys used the break wisely, obviously," he said. "We learned that we're a good team when everyone is dialed in and plays at a high level."