The Carolina Hurricanes face off against the New York Islanders tonights at 7:00 inside Nassau Coliseum in hopes of ending the current three-game losing streak. The team hasn't been clicking since losing 3-0 to the Montreal Canadians this past Monday. The Hurricanes have since lost 4-3 at home against the Winnipeg Jets and most recently 5-2 at home last night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but will look to reverse their fortunes against an Islanders' team that is a dismal 2-6 at home this season.
The Hurricanes are still dealing with numerous injuries to key players, and they will miss defenders Joni Pitkanen (lower-body), Tim Gleason (lower-body), Jamie McBain (upper-body) and forward Jeff Skinner (concussion) for tonight's game. Rookie defenders Ryan Murphy, playing in his third NHL game since being called up from Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), and Michal Jordan, called up from the AHL Charlotte Checkers, have done well to fill in for the missing defensemen, as well as provide offensive support from the blue line both in regular strength situations and on the powerplay.
The New York Islanders are coming off an impressive 4-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Islanders' starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov had 35 saves in route to recording the shutout, while forward John Tavares netted his league-leading 12th goal in the victory. Tavares currently has a six-game point streak against the Hurricanes, during which he has eight goals and seven assists (15 points); his linemate Matt Moulson has tallied four goals and added five assists in the last six contests against the Hurricanes.
Cam Ward will get the start in goal for the Hurricanes due to the team playing in a back-to-back situation. Ward has done well in Nassau Coliseum throughout his career, amassing a 15-3-3 record with a 2.40 goals against average; his 15 wins against the Islanders are the most Ward has tallied against any non-divisional opponent. Ward was shaky in net during his last outing, giving up four goals in the team's 4-3 home loss to the Jets.
The Hurricanes will look for offense from captain and leading scorer Eric Staal. Staal not only leads the team with eight goals and 10 assists (18 points), but has been successful on the road against the Islanders during his career with the Hurricanes notching nine goals and adding five assists in his last 11 games.
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