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Hurricanes trying Eric Staal at right wing vs. Jets

by Kurt Dusterberg

JETS (8-6-2) at HURRICANES (5-6-3)


RALEIGH, N.C. -- Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal will play his first full game at right wing under coach Bill Peters, skating on a line with left wing Jiri Tlusty and rookie center Victor Rask against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

Prior to the season Peters said he envisioned Eric on the wing with brother Jordan Staal, but those plans were scrapped when Jordan broke his leg in the preseason. Peters said he decided not to wait for Jordan's return and moved Eric to the wing mid-game in a 4-1 win against the Calgary Flames on Monday.

"Victor is a guy who can make plays on his forehand obviously and get it over to the right side," Peters said. "And Staal with wide speed can maybe turn the corner and get to the net and be dangerous."

After playing nearly his entire career at center, Staal is greeting the move with enthusiasm. His primary goal for the first game?

"I hope we win," he said without hesitation. "That's first and foremost. I'm looking to play the same style game: attack the net, use my size and skating ability, and hopefully touch a lot of pucks."

Rask will get an opportunity he hardly could have envisioned in training camp, where he simply was hoping to impress the coaching staff. With 14 NHL games under his belt, he wants to further the impression he has made on Peters.

"I don't know if it's pressure," Rask said. "But it's a lot of fun. It's an opportunity to show what I can do and I'm looking forward to it."

The Jets will turn to Michael Hutchinson in goal after four straight starts by Ondrej Pavelec. Hutchinson's previous start, Nov. 2, was a 33-save shutout on the road against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"He was going back in sooner rather than later from the moment that Chicago game was done," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "We don't want to leave a guy who's had a performance like that out too long."

Maurice now will be mindful of how Hutchinson can impact the team in the near future.

"It puts us in a position, if he has another strong outing, to look at the next four games as another start for him," Maurice said.

Here are the projected lineups:


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Michael Frolik

Evander Kane - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler

Adam Lowry - Mathieu Perreault - Dustin Byfuglien

TJ Galiardi - Jim Slater - Matt Halischuk

Toby Enstrom - Zach Bogosian

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Grant Clitsome - Paul Postma

Michael Hutchinson

Ondrej Pavelec

Scratched: Adam Pardy, Chris Thorburn, Anthony Peluso

Injured: None


Nathan Gerbe - Riley Nash - Elias Lindholm

Jiri Tlusty - Victor Rask - Eric Staal

Jeff Skinner - Jay McClement - Alexander Semin

Zach Boychuk - Patrick Dwyer - Brad Malone

Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk

Tim Gleason - Jay Harrison

Ron Hainsey - John-Michael Liles

Cam Ward

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Chris Terry, Brett Bellemore

Injured: Jordan Staal (broken leg)

Status report: Halischuk, a healthy scratch the past seven games, will replace Thorburn in the lineup. Maurice said Thorburn is a little banged up. "I feel good," Halischuk said. "I've been skating and working hard to prepare myself for this opportunity. It's just another game, so I will try to take it one shift at a time."

Who's hot: Ward has a 1.39 goals-against average during his five-game winning streak. ... Lindholm has five goals and six points in his past six games. ... Faulk had a goal and two assists in a 4-1 win against the Calgary Flames on Monday.

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