New York Islanders (38-29-12) at Carolina Hurricanes (35-30-14)
7 p.m., PNC Arena
Radio: AM970 - The Answer, 88.7FM - WRHU, 103.9FM - LI News
The Eastern Conference playoff landscape keeps changing, but the New York Islanders mission stays the same - keep winning and worry about getting some help later.
The Islanders kept their playoff hopes alive with a 2-1 overtime win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night and need a win on Thursday in Carolina to just have a chance of staying alive. Five points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs (93 points) and six back of the Ottawa Senators (94) with three games to play, the Isles need both teams to lose in regulation.
Toronto hosts Tampa Bay (88 points) on Thursday night, while the Senators visit the Boston Bruins.
"At this point you just have to go out there and lay everything on the line," Brock Nelson told reporters on Tuesday. "Dougie keeps saying to go out there and control what we can control and just try to win out. That's all we can do to give ourselves a shot."
Kulemin Joins Team in Carolina:
Nikolay Kulemin joined the Islanders for practice in Raleigh on Wednesday, his first practice since being sidelined since March 24 with an upper-body injury.
"He's a big, important piece and we'll see how he feels," Interim Coach Doug Weight said. "He did a lot of work yesterday, he's going to skate today a little bit and we'll get a report on him tonight/tomorrow morning and see how he's doing. He's here for a reason obviously."
With Kulemin, John Tavares, Ryan Strome and Casey Cizikas out, the Islanders played Tuesday night with 11 forwards. Kulemin's return would fill the forward spot for the Islanders, as well as return one of the team's more-used penalty killers to the lineup.
Video: NYI@NSH: Hickey beats Rinne with wrister for OT win
Hickey The Forward:
With 11 forwards in the lineup on Tuesday, defenseman Thomas Hickey stepped in as a left wing on a line with Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey.
Technically Hickey was out as a defenseman for his OT winner against the Predators, but Weight said Hickey filled in admirably as an emergency forward.
"He did a good job. He was solid in the little areas," Weight said on Wednesday. "He did a good job in the neutral zone, he moved his feet, he created some things in the offensive zone and certainly most importantly in our zone he was breaking the puck out he does what he does. It's how you figure it'd translate for a guy like him, he's a thinker of the game and he'll be ready if we need him up at forward."
"It was challenging, but I had a lot of fun with it," Hickey told reporters on Tuesday.
Video: Tavares' GWG seals comeback, as Isles edge Canes, 3-2
Isles vs. Canes:
The Carolina Hurricanes were eliminated from playoff contention on Tuesday night, but Thursday's matchup is not to be taken lightly for the Islanders. The Hurricanes lead the season series 3-1, including a pair of high-scoring - 7-4 and 8-4 - wins over the Isles.
The Islanders did win the most recent meeting between the teams, as John Tavares capped a 3-2 comeback with an OT winner on March 14.
Carolina has lost three straight games entering Thursday's action.