HURRICANES (2-8-3) at PANTHERS (4-7-1)
Last 10 -- Hurricanes 1-6-3; Panthers 3-6-1
Season series -- This is the second of six meetings between these teams. On Oct. 9, the Hurricanes earned a 7-2 home-ice win in which 12 different players recorded a point and chased Florida starting goalie Tomas Vokoun early in the third period. Jussi Jokinen led the offense with a goal and 2 assists, and Rod Brind'Amour, Tuomo Ruutu and Matt Cullen each added a goal and an assist.
Big story -- These two Southeast Division rivals are struggling mightily, and both are in desperate need of two points. Florida is showing signs of breaking out of its funk, while Carolina is still trying to get off the schneid -- and is now without its top forward.
Hurricanes -- Losers of nine straight, Carolina hasn't posted a victory since beating the Panthers on Oct. 9, its fourth game of the season. As if that's not bad enough, this will be the Hurricanes' first full game without No. 1 center Eric Staal, who sustained an upper-body injury on Sunday against the Sharks. It will be the first time Staal has missed a game since his rookie season of 2003-04, ending a streak of 349 consecutive regular-season appearances.
"When things go wrong, they go wrong," GM Jim Rutherford said. "All teams have to deal with injuries. We have enough players to step up but we'll have to do it with confidence at an all-time low."
Panthers -- This is the first of a two-game homestand for Florida, which hasn't played since last Saturday, a 4-0 shutout of the Blues in St. Louis. The Panthers are riding a modest two-game win streak after losing eight of their first 10 games.
Coach Pete DeBoer told the Miami Herald his club "was feeling good about itself" after the road wins at Dallas and St. Louis. "We're not going to dig ourselves out of this hole by winning a few and losing a few," he added. "We have to get on a winning streak and enjoy that ride as long as we can."
Tomas Vokoun is expected to get the start in goal.
Who's hot -- Rookie Brandon Sutter has scored in each of Carolina's last two games, also the only two goals for the team in that stretch. For the Panthers, Steven Reinprecht has 4 goals and an assist in his last three games, Nathan Horton has a goal and 6 assists in his last three games, Jordan Leopold has a goal and 3 assists in his last three games, and Rostislav Olesz has a goal and an assist in his last three games.
Injury report -- For the Hurricanes, left wing Michael Ryan (upper body) is on injured reserve, while Staal is day-to-day with upper-body injuries. For the Panthers, winger David Booth (concussion), Radek Dvorak (lower-body) and Nick Tarnasky (orbital bone fracture) are on injured reserve.
Stat pack -- The Hurricanes have been outscored 38-17 during their nine-game losing streak, including 11-2 in weekend losses to the Flyers and Sharks. … Reinprecht scored a natural hat trick in a 5:11 span of the first period during a 6-5 shootout victory at Dallas last Friday. He became the second player in franchise history to score three goals in one period, joining Pavel Bure.
Puck drop -- "We need to find a way to win. We've done all the talking and said all the things. It's now a matter of each guy is going to have to figure a way to do something a little different to get it done." -- Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour