HURRICANES (4-4-0) at RANGERS (4-3-1)
TV: FS-CR (HD), MSG-PLUS (HD)
Season series -- The Hurricanes and Rangers are squaring off for the first time this season. They will meet three more times, but not again until Jan. 5.
Big Story -- While Carolina is back on the road again, the Rangers are trying to pick up their pace at home. The Blueshirts have won just once in four tries at Madison Square Garden this season, and they just dropped a 6-4 decision to Atlanta on Wednesday. The road is nothing new to these Hurricanes, who have played at home just once so far this season. They lost 3-0 to Washington on Wednesday in their home opener.
Hurricanes -- Carolina coach Paul Maurice spent part of Thursday digesting the 3-0 loss to the Hurricanes and figuring out what he wants to do with his surplus of forwards going forward. He had Jiri Tlusty and Patrick O'Sullivan in the press box Wednesday night as healthy scratches because he wanted to go with the same lineup he had in Phoenix, a game the 'Canes won in overtime, 4-3. However, after a shutout loss it wouldn't be shocking if the coach made some changes Friday at the Garden. Rookie fourth-liners Zac Dalpe (1 assist) and Drayson Bowman (no points) haven't produced. The Hurricanes did not practice Thursday, so any news on their lineup won't come until Friday morning.
Rangers -- Just when things were looking up for the Rangers, inconsistent play plagued them again in Wednesday's loss to Atlanta. When the Rangers put in the effort to work hard and keep the puck in deep they got great results. When they let up, especially in the neutral zone, the Thrashers got the best of them. The good news for the Rangers is that the MRI on Artem Anisimov's right ankle turned up negative and he should be good to go Friday. Michal Rozsival (hyperextended knee) should also play. However, Derek Boogaard has some sort of infection on his finger and is questionable, so Evgeny Grachev was recalled from Hartford.
Who's Hot -- After going without a goal for the first seven games of the season, Rangers right wing Ryan Callahan has cashed in in back-to-back games. He leads the Rangers with 6 assists and is tied with Brandon Dubinsky with a team-high 8 points. Sean Avery has put together a solid stretch of games and he scored his first goal of the season Wednesday. He added 2 assists, giving him 6 this season.
Injury Report -- Carolina is healthy. The Rangers are without Marian Gaborik (shoulder), Chris Drury (broken finger) and Vinny Prospal (knee surgery). Boogaard is questionable.
Stat Pack -- With the Islanders shipping Nino Niederreiter back to juniors, Carolina wing Jeff Skinner is now the youngest player in the NHL at 18 years and 165 days. Skinner became the youngest player to score in a Canes jersey when he picked up his first career NHL goal on Oct. 20. Eric Staal is the only other 18-year-old to score a goal for the team, doing so at 18 years and 359 days. … The Rangers' penalty kill has allowed only one power-play goal in the last 18 chances against.
Puck Drop -- Tortorella admitted after Wednesday's game that he has concerns about the play he's getting from rookie center Derek Stepan, he of the hat trick in his NHL debut. Stepan has no goals and 2 assists in the seven games since opening night and he was benched for the third period Wednesday. He's expected to be in the lineup Friday.
"Step was, no pun intended, a step slow in everything (Wednesday)," Tortorella said. "We tried to work him through it. He's a smart enough player, but then in the third period we figured we'd let him watch. Sure, it's a concern. I think it will be throughout the year. I think there will be ups and downs with him. We have to try to teach him and help him through it."