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Islanders look to extend Hurricanes' miseries

by John Kreiser /

ISLANDERS (6-6-6) at HURRICANES (2-12-3)

Last 10 -- New York 5-2-3; Carolina 0-8-2

Season series --
It's the second meeting of the season. The Islanders won the first with a 4-3 shootout victory at the Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 21. The Isles wasted a 3-1 lead in the third period, but won by scoring on all three of their shootout attempts against Cam Ward.

Big story -- The Hurricanes are trying not to make history. A loss to the Islanders would give them a 14-game losing streak (12 regulation losses), matching the longest victory drought in franchise history (they went 0-8-6 as the Hartford Whalers in 1992). The 'Canes are coming off a 5-2 home loss to Los Angeles on Wednesday and come into this game without their No. 1 center, Eric Staal, and their starting goaltender, Ward, both of whom are out with injuries.

"You never feel like you’re at the end of it," coach Paul Maurice said when asked if there's any coaching method he hasn't tried to shake his club out of its funk, which includes seven consecutive losses in regulation. "There are always more barrels to kick and more to do."

Team Scope:

Islanders --
Game 2 of their seven-game trip can't be any wilder than the first one, a 5-4 shootout loss at Washington that saw the Islanders give up a goal just eight seconds into the game, score three times and KO goaltender Jose Theodore before the first TV timeout, fall behind 4-3, tie the game on Trent Hunter's late power-play goal and, finally, lose an 11-round shootout, the longest in team history.

"That third period was huge for us, to be able to draw the penalties against a team that prides themselves on their third periods," coach Scott Gordon said. "It was good to see us come back."

Hurricanes --
With Ward gone for at least three weeks with a lacerated leg, the Hurricanes brought in Manny Legace to team with Michael Leighton. Legace got the start on Wednesday and stopped 26 of 30 shots in his first NHL appearance since January.

"A little quicker than I've been playing against the last month or so," Legace said, referring to his minor-league stint with the AHL Chicago Wolves before coming to Carolina. "I didn't make a big save in the third period to give our guys a chance to win. It's as simple as that."

Defenseman Tim Gleason absolved him for the loss.

"Manny came into kind of a big mess and I thought he played pretty well," Gleason said. "He's not the guy to point the finger at. It's the guys in front of him who again didn't do the job."

Who's hot -- Matt Moulson, a minor-league free agent who signed with the Isles this summer, continues to put up points. He has 8 goals and 14 points in 18 games, including goals in each of his last two games. … Tuomo Ruutu scored both of Carolina's goals in the loss to Los Angeles.

Injury report --
The Islanders are still without forwards Kyle Okposo (H1N1 virus) and Doug Weight (upper body). Forward Blake Comeau missed the game against Washington with an illness and may sit this one out as well. … Ward and Staal won't play for Carolina, while Scott Walker and Stephane Yelle didn’t practice Thursday after being injured against the Kings. Both are possible for this game. 

Stat pack --
Carolina has led after the first period just four times in 17 games and has trailed entering the third period in 15 of its 17 games. … New York has lost three games in which it has led by two or more goals -- not counting the first meeting with the 'Canes, who overcame a 3-1 deficit to get a point.

Puck drop -- The Hurricanes are in a stretch of five-in-six at home, so they've got to get the ship righted immediately. Carolina is just 2-5-1 at the RBC Center, and as Gleason noted after the loss to the Kings, "If we don't get a win soon we're going to be in big trouble."

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