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Hurricanes-Wild Preview

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The Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild will both look a little different when they square off on Saturday.

Fresh off a pair of trades, the two teams will be looking to improve their postseason chances when they meet at the Xcel Energy Center.

Carolina (28-22-7) reacquired Josef Vasicek Friday in a trade that sent Eric Belanger to Nashville. Vasicek played his first five seasons with the Hurricanes and was a member of last season's championship team. He was traded to the Predators in July for Scott Walker.

The 6-foot-5 Vasicek struggled to get ice time with the Predators this season, picking up four goals and nine assists in 38 games.

"We're obviously very familiar with Joe and the type of game he is capable of bringing to the Hurricanes," said Jim Rutherford, Carolina's president and general manager. "Going back to his natural position of center, with his size and strength, will help our team down the stretch."

Carolina is seventh in the Eastern Conference with 63 points, one points behind sixth-place Montreal and two in back of Pittsburgh and Ottawa, which are tied for fourth.

Also on Friday, the Wild (30-22-4) acquired Adam Hall from the New York Rangers for Pascal Dupuis in a swap of forwards. Hall, who had four goals and eight assists in 49 games with the Rangers, is expected to be in uniform for this game.

Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said he liked Hall's size and aggressiveness after watching him play for the Predators in the 2005-06 season, when he had 14 goals and a career-high 15 assists in 75 games.

The Hurricanes are coming off Thursday's 5-2 win at Boston, their second straight victory after a four-game losing streak. Ray Whitney, who leads Carolina with 64 points had three goals and two assists, while Justin Williams and Rod Brind'Amour each had a goal and two assists.

"They weren't pretty goals, but when we are playing well, they're the kind of goals this teams gets," Whitney said of his hat trick, which came in a span of just 1:40 in the second.

Williams leads Carolina with 28 goals, and Brind'Amour has a team-best 45 assists.

Erik Cole, who missed the final 22 regular-season games and the first 23 playoff contests last season with a broken neck, left the game with a lower-body injury in the second period and didn't return. His status for this game is unknown.

The Wild have won four of five, including Thursday's 4-2 victory over Florida. Backup Niklas Backstrom made 41 saves - a season high for a Wild goaltender - and improved to 3-1 in the last four games in place of injured starter Manny Fernandez.

"When you have a No. 1 goalie, you have to play him as much as possible, and the other guy has to wait and be patient," Lemaire said. "And if he's not, he gets frustrated. ... But Backstrom was very patient and kept working. Now he's got his chance and he's playing well."

Minnesota is tied with Vancouver for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"Every game now is huge, and every two points," said defenseman Brent Burns, who had a goal and an assist. "You are already thinking back to the points you should have had, and it might come back to haunt you."

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