In case you haven’t noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven’t, the Hurricanes have managed to win a few here and there

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Back in November, when the Carolina Hurricanes were languishing at the bottom of the NHL standings, GM Ron Francis said, “The frustrating thing for us is that in five of our losses we clearly were the better team but did not win.”

His frustration was understandable. Statistically, the ‘Canes were one of the top puck-possession teams in the league. For whatever reason, they just couldn’t score. And they weren’t getting many saves from their goalies, either. A bad combination.

Fast forward to the present and the Hurricanes are one of the NHL’s hottest teams. No, really. They totally are.

Since bottoming out at 8-13-4 on Dec. 3, the Hurricanes have gone 11-5-3. Last night’s 3-2 overtime win in Pittsburgh put them within two points of Boston for the final wild-card spot in the East.

Granted, they’ve got a bunch of company in the race…

wild

…but it beats jockeying with the Blue Jackets at the back of the pack.

“We’ve been staring at the standings all year,” captain Eric Staal told reporters after beating the Pens. “We talked about (how) we scraped and clawed … (and) now you’ve got to climb, you’ve got to beat teams in front of you.”

It’s worth noting that, if the ‘Canes can keep making up ground in the standings, Francis could be faced with some interesting decisions at the Feb. 29 trade deadline. Staal is a pending unrestricted free agent; his situation has been well-covered here at PHT.

But Staal’s not the only pending UFA. Kris Versteeg and John-Michael Liles are, too. The former has 27 points in 43 games; the latter is logging around 20 minutes a night.

Carolina plays in St. Louis tomorrow, before returning home to face Vancouver Friday.