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Hurricanes-Stars Preview

GAME: Carolina Hurricanes (16-7-1) at Dallas Stars (16-7-1).

TIME: Friday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

Marty Turco looks to continue his strong goaltending as the surging Dallas Stars host the Carolina Hurricanes in a matchup of division leaders.

Since two rough outings and a brief benching toward the end of October, Turco has returned to form, helping the Stars to 10 victories in their last 12 games. He has allowed just 15 goals in Dallas' last eight games, resulting in seven victories and a first-place tie with Los Angeles in the Pacific Division.

Turco was pulled during a 7-2 loss to Los Angeles on Oct. 20 after surrendering three goals on seven shots. He closed the month with back-to-back defeats, allowing five goals in each loss.

Dallas has scored 12 power-play goals over its last eight games, including one by Sergei Zubov in Wednesday's 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Turco stopped 18 shots, marking the fourth time in the last 12 games he's faced less than 20.

"Our power play got us a huge goal," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. "It was a good team game."

The Hurricanes have allowed 10 power-play goals in their last six games, going 2-4 during that stretch following an 11-1 surge that moved them atop the Southeast Division.

The Hurricanes have continued to play well on the road, winning six of seven games, including Tuesday's 4-3 overtime win in Atlanta. Defenseman Frantisek Kaberle drove a slap shot from the left circle off the right post, but the puck ricocheted past Thrashers goalie Michael Garnett for the game-winner just 32 seconds into overtime.

"The last two games have been up and down, so this is a great win for us," said Kaberle, who spent most of the previous five seasons with Atlanta before signing with Carolina.

Second-year center Eric Staal continued his breakout season with two goals against Atlanta, scoring on the power play and on a short-handed breakaway. With six goals in Carolina's last seven games, Staal has 18 goals and 36 points this season.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 1): Hurricanes - 33 points, 1st place, Southeast Division. Stars - 33 points, 1st place (tied), Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Hurricanes - Staal, 18 goals, 18 assists and 36 points; Mike Commodore, 47 PIM. Stars - Jere Lehtinen, 12 goals; Jason Arnott, 15 assists and 25 points; Steve Ott, 66 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 1): Hurricanes - Power play: 18.1 percent (28 for 154), 12th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.6 percent (107 for 136), 28th. Stars - Power play: 17.6 percent (29 for 164), 15th (tied). Penalty killing: 82.8 percent (130 for 157), 13th.

GOALTENDERS: Hurricanes - Martin Gerber (10-5-0, 2 SO, 2.45 GAA); Cam Ward (6-2-1, 0, 3.67). Stars - Turco (14-6-1, 1, 2.60); Johan Hedberg (2-1-0, 0, 3.90).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Stars, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 22, 2003; Stars, 3-1. At Raleigh, N.C., Dallas limited Carolina to 17 shots and scored a pair of third-period goals to break up a 1-1 tie. Lehtinen scored twice for the Stars.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 7-3-1 on the road; Stars - 8-5-1 at home.

Associated Press

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