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Isles begin long homestand against Hurricanes

by Brian Compton

HURRICANES (8-7-1) at ISLANDERS (8-9-1)


Last 10: Carolina 5-4-1; New York 4-6-0.

Season series: This is the second of three meetings. Carolina earned a 6-4 win against the Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 11.

Big story: With Rick DiPietro waived and sent to Bridgeport of the American Hockey League, there’s a good chance Kevin Poulin could make his season debut for the Islanders against the Hurricanes. Poulin, New York’s fifth-round pick (No. 126) at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, is 6-6-1 with a 2.67 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in 16 NHL appearances.

In 32 AHL games this season, Poulin had a 3.22 GAA.

"Lately I've been feeling great on the ice,” Poulin told Newsday. “Maybe it doesn't show stat-wise, but I feel like I'm making the saves I need to make."

Team scope:

Hurricanes: Carolina has struggled of late, as it enters Sunday’s action with a three-game losing streak. The slide continued Saturday night, when the Hurricanes suffered a 5-2 defeat on home ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning. All three losses have come in regulation.

"Yes, we had shots, but we didn't get inside their [defense]," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "In all parts of the game tonight, we weren't strong enough."

Islanders: With the news of Rick DiPietro’s demotion to the AHL behind them, the Isles were a focused bunch Saturday night, when they cruised to a 4-0 win at Buffalo. Evgeni Nabokov picked up his first shutout of the season in a 35-save performance, while captain Mark Streit had a goal and an assist.

And if New York is going to make a move in the Eastern Conference standings, now is the time. Sunday marks the beginning of a seven-game homestand for the Islanders.

"[Nabokov] played great tonight. It seemed whenever we needed a big stop, he was there to make it," said winger Matt Moulson, who had two assists. "Some I don't even think he saw them, just a quick reaction. I think you feed off that as a team."

Who’s hot: Hurricanes captain Eric Staal has six points in the past six games. … With his goal Saturday night, Isles center John Tavares is once again tied for the National Hockey League lead with 12 tallies this season.

Injury report: Carolina is expected to be without defensemen Joni Pitkanen (lower body), Tim Gleason (lower body) and Jamie McBain (upper body), along with forwards Jeff Skinner (concussion) and Tuomo Ruutu (hip). … The Islanders are missing defenseman Matt Carkner (lower body) and forward Jesse Joensuu (sports hernia).

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