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Hurricanes hope to end skid as they visit Sharks

by Eric Goodman

HURRICANES (26-26-9) at SHARKS (39-17-6)


Last 10: Carolina 3-7-0; San Jose 5-5-0

Season series: This is the second and final game between these cross-conference clubs. The Carolina Hurricanes scored four goals in the third period to defeat the San Jose Sharks, 5-3, on Dec. 6 in Raleigh, N.C.

Big story: The Hurricanes are losing ground in the Stanley Cup Playoff picture in the Eastern Conference due to a five-game losing streak, but have been successful against the Sharks recently with a 5-1-0 record in their past six matchups, including a three-game winning streak. The Sharks begin a four-game homestand Tuesday at SAP Center, where they are 17-3-1 in their past 21 games.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes: Carolina is faced with a tough choice regarding the NHL Trade Deadline Wednesday as it was seven points behind the Detroit Red Wings as of Monday for the final wild card berth in the East while carrying three goaltenders on its roster. General manager Jim Rutherford hasn't indicated he will deal Cam Ward, Anton Khudobin or Justin Peters to a contending team, although the Hurricanes are averaging 3.80 goals against over their five-game losing streak.

Despite amassing a season-high 52 shots and scoring three third-period goals at the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, the Hurricanes couldn't dig themselves out of a 5-0 deficit and lost 5-3. Ward played the entire game, and coach Kirk Muller later explained his decision not to pull his starting goalie.

"We decided it was a good game for [Ward] to just kind of fight through it. I think the guys were willing to kind of keep playing for him there, [so] I just kind of chose to leave him in and get the minutes in and let him fight through it," Muller said.

Sharks: San Jose returns home Tuesday after going 2-1-0 during a quick road trip last week. The Sharks are set to play four straight against clubs from the East, beginning with Carolina and ending on Mar. 11 with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Sharks' penalty-killing unit has been nearly perfect over the past five games, stopping the opposition 15 out of 16 times. San Jose's opponent Tuesday has struggled with special teams and was 29th in the NHL at 13 percent on the power play.

"[The penalty kill] has given our team a chance to win in the past few games," center Joe Pavelski said following a 4-2 win at the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.

Who's hot: Hurricanes right wing Alexander Semin has three goals over the past five games. … Pavelski has three goals and two assists over the past three games for the Sharks.

Injury report: Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk (upper body) was to be assessed Monday after suffering the injury Sunday at Anaheim. Defenseman Joni Pitkanen (left heel surgery) is out for the season. … Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (right knee surgery) and defenseman Brad Stuart (upper body) are on injured reserve.

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