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Hurricanes-Islanders Preview

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Hurricanes-Islanders Preview

GAME: Carolina Hurricanes (26-10-4) at New York Islanders (18-20-2).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

Cory Stillman looks to continue his torrid play and help the Carolina Hurricanes snap a three-game road skid when they wrap up a home-and-home series at the New York Islanders.

The 'Canes start play tied with the Buffalo Sabres for third in the Eastern Conference, three points behind the Ottawa Senators and four in back of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Stillman scored the go-ahead power-play goal late in the second period Friday to lead Carolina past New York 4-1.

The veteran forward, who signed as a free agent in the offseason after helping the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2003-04, extended his point streak to 10 games, tallying six goals and 12 assists in that span.

Kevyn Adams, Rod Brind'Amour and Justin Williams also scored for the Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes, who won their third straight game.

Carolina improved to a league-best 17-4-1 at home, and are 8-1-2 in their last 11 games overall - playing nine of those games at the RBC Center.

"We've been wrapped up in a couple of big homestands and we've taken advantage of it," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "We do have a comfort level here in front of our fans."

However, the Hurricanes have lost three straight, and five of their last seven on the road.

Eric Godard scored for the Islanders, who suffered their sixth loss in seven games. Godard also angered the Hurricanes with a first-period hit on Williams.

Williams hit Godard in front of the penalty box, and Godard retaliated by hitting Williams from behind. Both players drew penalties and the two exchanged words through the glass in the box.

Godard also took hits from Mike Commodore, who was called for slashing after hitting him during a second-period stoppage, and Aaron Ward, who took a boarding penalty for leveling him a few minutes later.

"I told him the penalty was dumb," Islanders coach Steve Stirling said. "That said, I told him I wanted him to go out and play. To draw penalties, not take them, and he took me to heart and went out and played hard. He was our best player tonight."

Rookie Wade Dubielewicz made 31 saves for the Islanders in his first NHL start this season and just his fourth career game. He is playing in place of Garth Snow, who is expected to miss up to four weeks with knee injuries.

Starter and U.S. Olympic selection Rick DiPietro is day-to-day with a sprained left knee.

The Islanders will also be without goal-scoring leader and U.S. Olympic team selection Jason Blake for the second straight game (bruised ribs).

New York has dropped 10 of its last 14 on home ice to Carolina.

STANDINGS: Hurricanes - 56 points, 1st place, Southeast Division. Islanders - 38 points, 4th place, 22 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Hurricanes - Eric Staal, 26 goals and 52 points; Stillman, 30 assists; Commodore, 80 PIM. Islanders - Blake, 17 goals; Alexei Yashin, 23 assists and 38 points; Arron Asham, 78 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Hurricanes - Power play: 19.1 percent (51 for 267), 8th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.1 percent (177 for 221), 26th. Islanders - Power play: 17.8 percent (44 for 247), 14th. Penalty killing: 80.8 percent (211 for 261), 20th (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Hurricanes - Martin Gerber (19-7-2, 2 SO, 2.80 GAA); Cam Ward (7-3-2, 3.78). Islanders - Dubielewicz (1-1-0, 0, 2.90); Frederic Cloutier (no appearances).

SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.

LAST MEETING: Friday; Hurricanes, 4-1. At Raleigh, N.C., Ward finished with 28 saves and Frantisek Kaberle had two assists for Carolina.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 9-6-3 on the road; Islanders - 9-9-1 at home.


Associated Press
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