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Hurricanes could have reinforcements vs. Rangers

by Tal Pinchevsky

HURRICANES (34-33-11) at RANGERS (43-31-5)


Last 10: Carolina 5-3-2; New York 7-2-1

Season series: The New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes meet for the fourth and final time. New York took the first game 5-1 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 2 before the teams split two games in Raleigh last month. The Hurricanes lost 4-2 at PNC Arena on March 7 and won 3-1 four night later.

Big story: With their prospects of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs at less than 1 percent, according to, Carolina is on the verge of missing the postseason for the fifth straight year. The role of spoiler has suited them well, as they've won two of their past three. The Rangers sit second in the Metropolitan Division, two points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers, who hold a game in hand.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes: Closing out March on a 3-4-2 slide hurt Carolina's already remote chances of making the playoffs. They started April with back-to-back 4-1 wins April 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team fighting for first in the Metropolitan Division, and April 3 against the Dallas Stars, who are scrambling to secure the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

They were unable to maintain that momentum Saturday night at home against the New Jersey Devils. Jeff Skinner tied the game 1-1 early in the second period with his team-leading 31st goal of the season but New Jersey replied 1:44 later and the Hurricanes never recovered in a 3-1 loss.

The Hurricanes practiced on Monday in Raleigh after having their team photo taken. Forwards Jiri Tlusty and Drayson Bowman both participated in practice, indicating they could return after sitting against the Devils. Bowman should be back after dealing with an illness and Tlusty has been nagged by an upper-body injury that has kept him out of the past three games.

Rangers: New York squandered a chance to clinch a playoff spot Saturday night at home against the Ottawa Senators. Mats Zuccarello's second goal of the second period cut Ottawa's lead to 3-2, but the Rangers were not able to get the equalizer in the third. They ended up clinching while idle Monday because the New Jersey Devils were shut out by the Calgary Flames.

Forward Jesper Fast was called up Monday from Hartford of the American Hockey League. Fast, 22, ranks third on the Wolf Pack with 17 goals and reported in time to practice Monday on a line with Brad Richards and Carl Hagelin.

"We thought we'd bring him up and took a look at him in practice today and will decide tomorrow what we're going to do," coach Alain Vigneault said of Fast. "I like his hockey sense and his speed. It permits him to play well at both ends of the rink."

Who's hot: Skinner has five goals and eight points in his past eight games. Hurricanes center Eric Staal has two goals in his past three games. … Zuccarello has four goals and seven points on his current four-game point streak. Rangers linemate Benoit Pouliot has five points on his current five-game point streak and defenseman John Moore has a two-game point streak since returning from a concussion on April 3.

Injury report: Bowman and Tlusty could return for the Hurricanes, while defenseman Andrej Sekera (lower body) is out. … Defenseman Ryan McDonagh (shoulder) will not play for the Rangers and wing Chris Kreider (hand) is out.

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