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Hurricanes-Sharks Preview @NHLdotcom

Most opposing teams have struggled at the HP Pavilion this season. Making their first trip to San Jose in nearly three years, the Carolina Hurricanes face the added challenge of winning there without their captain.

With Rod Brind'Amour back in Raleigh, the Hurricanes (25-22-5) continue a three-game western road trip Thursday at San Jose (36-7-5).

The Carolina center was sent home Wednesday with a "nagging lower-body issue that he's been dealing with for a while," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. Brind'Amour, who is tied for third on the team with 29 points, could return after Carolina ends its trip Saturday at Phoenix.

Winning in their first appearance at the HP Pavilion since Dec. 10, 2005, could prove difficult for the Hurricanes even with a healthy captain. A 23-2-2 home record is one of the reasons San Jose has a Western Conference-leading 77 points.

The Sharks also have the benefit of a five-day break as they attempt to bounce back from their second regulation defeat at home this season - 4-2 to Chicago on Saturday.

"We're going to put our work boots back on and do a lot of skating," coach Todd McLellan said.

San Jose has rebounded from its previous home defeats with winning streaks and after their first regulation loss at the HP Pavilion - 3-2 to Calgary on Jan. 15 - the Sharks won four straight, a streak which ended Saturday.

San Jose has also not dropped consecutive home games since Feb. 12-14 and hasn't lost two straight in regulation at the HP Pavilion since Jan. 17-19, 2008.

Carolina, meanwhile, has only two days to recover from a 4-3 defeat Tuesday at Vancouver, which came on a short-handed goal with 1:22 remaining.

The Hurricanes, who have averaged 2.14 goals in their last seven games, had Brandon Sutter's third-period goal nullified by an interference penalty, and Cam Ward also struggled in his 17th straight start, allowing four goals on 24 shots.

"I thought our team played pretty well, and I didn't help them by any means," Ward said. "That was a game I was fighting the puck it seemed like all night on the simplest shots. We made a mistake there on the power play at the end but that's an opportunity for me to step up and make a save because I didn't make a save all game for us. It stings because obviously we really need the points."

One of the NHL's best on special teams, the Sharks also seem to have the advantage in facing one of the league's worst. San Jose, which has converted 23.4 percent of its chances this season, has scored on 13 of its last 44 power-play opportunities (29.5 percent) to power a 7-2-0 record.

The Sharks have also killed off 85.2 percent of opposing man advantages, while the Hurricanes have converted 15.7 percent of their power plays and allowed opponents to score on 21.0 percent of their opportunities.

While Carolina will play without its captain, San Jose could get back one of its top defenders. Dan Boyle is expected back after missing the past three contests with an upper-body injury.

The Hurricanes have won two of the past three meeting with the Sharks, but both games were in Raleigh. At the HP Pavilion, Carolina has lost four straight dating to Nov. 4, 2000.

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