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Hurricanes and Ducks aim to continue improvement

by Adam Kimelman /

HURRICANES (5-13-5) at DUCKS (8-11-3)

Last 10 -- Hurricanes 3-5-2; Ducks 4-5-1

Season series -- This is the teams' only meeting this season. They split a pair of games last season. Carolina won 3-1 in Anaheim, led by Niclas Wallin's 2 assists and 32 saves by Michael Leighton. The Ducks won the rematch in Carolina, 4-1, behind Ryan Getzlaf's goal and 2 assists, and 36 saves by Jonas Hiller.

Big story -- These two teams are down in the standings but playing better recently. The Hurricanes have won three of their last five, while the Ducks have two wins in their last three games. The Ducks survived a late goal by Calgary's Jarome Iginla on Monday to beat the Flames 3-2 in a shootout.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes -- Big things are expected from Brandon Sutter, but so soon? "He's really ahead of schedule, and maybe ahead of projections, with the skill level and the offense he's shown," Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford told the club's Web site. "We always knew he'd be an impact player for our organization because he's such a smart player, but at this age, to score the kind of goals he's scoring, we've seen a whole other side of him." Rutherford expected Sutter, the 11th pick of the 2007 Entry Draft, to spend this season in the AHL. Injuries forced his recall, but he's fit in just fine, with 5 goals and 9 points in 14 games.

Ducks -- It's been a long eight months Jean-Sebastien Giguere, but the Anaheim goalie got his first win since last March in Monday's 3-2 shootout victory over Calgary. Giguere made 41 saves in regulation, then stopped Nigel Dawes, Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross in the shootout. "It's been so long," Giguere told the Orange County Register. "It's been a long time. Feels good to win."

Who's hot -- After starting the season with 3 points in his first seven games, Getzlaf has 19 assists and 23 points in his last 15 games. Hurricanes forward Tuomo Ruutu has 6 points in his last five games, including a 4-assist game Thursday against Toronto.

Injury report -- The already beat-up Hurricanes lost Ruutu during the third period of Monday's game in Dallas due to a lower-body injury. He's questionable for Wednesday's game. There is good news, however, as No. 1 center Eric Staal was activated from IR and is ready to make his return to the lineup. He's missed the last 10 games with an upper-body injury. For the Ducks, second-line forward Joffrey Lupul sat out Monday's game against Calgary due to back spasms. He's questionable for Wednesday.

Stat pack -- After scoring more than two goals in a game just four times in their first 18 games, Carolina has scored at least three in a game three times in its last five.

Puck drop -- Teams don't win or lose the Stanley Cup in November, but for two teams with high hopes, their margin of error in the standings is running very slim. The Hurricanes are 15th in the East, 10 points behind No. 8 Tampa Bay. The Ducks are 14th in the West, eight points behind eighth-place Columbus.

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