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Islanders-Hurricanes Preview @NHLdotcom
Islanders-Hurricanes Preview

GAME: New York Islanders (20-23-2) at Carolina Hurricanes (31-10-4).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Carolina Hurricanes look to match the longest winning streak in franchise history, set earlier this season, when they face the New York Islanders for the fourth and final time this season.

The Hurricanes had never previously won eight consecutive games, but now have done it twice in a span of three months. They won a club-record nine in a row from Oct. 22-Nov. 11, and can equal that run with a victory Thursday.

Carolina is coming off arguably its most impressive victory during this streak, a 4-3 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. Former Flyer Rod Brind'Amour's first shootout goal of the season made the Hurricanes victorious, putting them one point ahead of the Ottawa Senators and two better than Philadelphia for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

The team already has a 14-point lead over the second-place Atlanta Thrashers in the Southeast Division.

"The biggest thing is the work ethic we bring every night," Hurricanes goaltender Martin Gerber said. "Even if we have a bad first period, we're always able to regroup."

Carolina has been shut out in the first period in the last two games, but has outscored opponents 7-3 in the final two periods.

Gerber is 14-3-0 with a 2.64 goals-against average at home, where the Hurricanes have won 11 of 12.

Carolina leading scorer Eric Staal, who recorded his 60th point of the season on Tuesday, has three goals and five assists during a four-game point streak.

The Islanders, meanwhile, look to build upon the team's winning record with new coach Brad Shaw.

New York changed coaches last week after the team had lost eight of nine under Steve Stirling. The team has won two of three games since Shaw took over on an interim basis after Stirling was fired.

The Islanders, though, have scored just eight goals in their last five contests.

Adding to the team's problems are the struggles of Alexei Yashin, who still leads the team in points despite having only two in his last six games.

Yashin, however, ended a five-game goal drought on Tuesday as the Islanders beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1.

Three days after allowing four goals and being pulled early in the second period of an 8-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, Rick DiPietro made 34 saves against Chicago to post his second win in three starts since coming back from a knee injury.

"I thought in the last 30 minutes he was the best player on the ice," Shaw said. "I thought his rebound control was great. I thought his moving of the puck was outstanding. He made probably seven or eight key saves for us down in the last 25-30 minutes."

New York was swept in a home-and-home series with Carolina earlier this month, getting outscored 7-1.

STANDINGS: Islanders - 42 points, 4th place, 22 PB, Atlantic Division. Hurricanes - 66 points, 1st place, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Islanders - Jason Blake and Miroslav Satan, 17 goals; Yashin, 24 assists and 40 points; Arron Asham, 86 PIM. Hurricanes - Staal, 29 goals and 60 points; Cory Stillman, 34 assists; Mike Commodore, 82 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Islanders - Power play: 17.5 percent (47 for 268), 15th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.1 percent (238 for 297), 24th. Hurricanes - Power play: 19.3 percent (58 for 301), 9th. Penalty killing: 80.2 percent (199 for 248), 22nd.

GOALTENDERS: Islanders - DiPietro (15-13-2, 0 SO, 3.40 GAA); Wade Dubielewicz (1-3-0, 0, 3.35). Hurricanes - Gerber (23-7-2, 3, 2.72); Cam Ward (8-3-2, 0, 3.66).

SEASON SERIES: Hurricanes, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 7; Hurricanes, 3-0. At Uniondale, N.Y., Gerber had 30 saves for his sixth career shutout and the Hurricanes scored all of their goals in a 6:14 span of the second period.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Islanders - 10-12-1 on the road; Hurricanes - 20-4-1 at home.

Associated Press
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