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Hurricanes go for season sweep of Islanders

by Davis Harper

ISLANDERS (27-35-9) at HURRICANES (31-31-9)


Last 10: New York 4-5-1; Carolina 5-5-0

Season series: This is the fourth and final game between the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina won each of the first three by one goal with a different goalie in net for each victory.

Big story: The Hurricanes and Islanders are not in the hunt for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but each is coming off a win against a team still in the race. The Islanders blanked the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday, and the Hurricanes edged the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

In the twilight of what has been a tough season for Hurricanes fans, there was some positive news Monday when defenseman Justin Faulk signed a six-year, $29 million extension.

"It's pretty exciting," Faulk said. "I'm happy to be here for another six years. I think we have a pretty good group of guys here, a good core of guys to build off of. If you look at our team, it's a good team to be a part of and good guys to have around. I think it's just going to keep getting better from here on out."

Team Scope:

Islanders: New York embarks on a quick two-game road trip after going 2-2-0 on its recent homestand. The Islanders have won 12 of their past 17 games away from Nassau Coliseum (12-4-1).

In their 2-0 win against the Blue Jackets on Sunday, Evgeni Nabokov made 41 saves for his third shutout of the season. Nabokov had given up at least three goals in each of his previous seven games.

"Your goaltender is obviously your best penalty-killer," coach Jack Capuano said. "He made some big saves for us. We mismanaged the puck in the neutral zone a few times … but he was there for us."

Hurricanes: On Saturday against the Jets, goalie Cam Ward gained some ground toward retaking his starting spot. With the Jets desperate for points in a tight Western Conference playoff race, Ward stopped 34 shots, including a save-of-the-season nominee, to help Carolina escape with a 3-2 victory. Ward has missed 21 games to injury this season, and Anton Khudobin has often been favored even when Ward was healthy.

"Obviously, I believe in myself and believe that I can play at an elite level," Ward said. "I've run into odd situations this year under different circumstances, and I have a goaltender [in Khudobin] beside me that is playing extremely well and has made it really difficult to get back into the net. That's a compliment to him, but at the same time I still want to compete and play and I still feel like I have a lot of game left in me."

Who's hot: Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck has three goals in his past five games. … Hurricanes center Eric Staal, who leads Carolina in scoring with 55 points, broke an 11-game goal-scoring drought with a goal Saturday against Winnipeg. He has 37 points (21 goals, 16 assists) in 37 career games against the Islanders.

Injury report: Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) and right wing Michael Grabner (concussion) are day-to-day. Center John Tavares (knee) is out for the season. … Hurricanes defenseman Ryan Murphy (upper body) is day-to-day.

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