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Predators-Hurricanes Preview @NHLdotcom
Predators-Hurricanes Preview

GAME: Nashville Predators (27-12-4) at Carolina Hurricanes (28-10-4).

TIME: Friday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Carolina Hurricanes put their five-game winning streak on the line and try to lay claim to a share of the Eastern Conference lead as the Nashville Predators visit the RBC Center.

The Hurricanes spent a brief moment atop the Eastern Conference Tuesday night after a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. It was a short-lived lead as the Ottawa Senators beat the Phoenix Coyotes later Tuesday to drop the Hurricanes back to second.

The move backward didn't stop Carolina coach Peter Laviolette from enjoying the moment.

"It's a goal of ours," Laviolette said. "The guys play hard to get it done."

The Hurricanes scored their goals in a 14-minute span of the first period. Erik Cole had a goal and an assist for Carolina, which increased its advantage in the Southeast Division to 12 points over Atlanta.

"We didn't execute as well as we could, but we got the points," Cole said. "For confidence, there always is that feeling that goes with a good win."

Ray Whitney and Matt Cullen each added a goal for the Hurricanes, while Cory Stillman's 11-game point streak ended.

Goalie Martin Gerber made 36 saves to win his fourth straight start for Carolina, which extended its best start in franchise history with 60 points in 42 games.

Carolina defenseman Aaron Ward, who left the game against Detroit in the second period, underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a hernia and is expected to miss three to six weeks. He has three goals and 10 assists in 42 games this season.

Nashville squandered a pair of one-goal leads and scrambled to tie the game in the third period Wednesday before losing 4-3 in a shootout to the Atlanta Thrashers.

"We gave them too many chances," said Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun, who had 38 saves. "Power play, 5-on-3, 4-on-3, you name it. Playing back-to-back, we were tired in the third period. They took advantage."

Nashville had a 2-1 win Tuesday over the New York Islanders.

Center Yanic Perreault scored twice for the Predators, who fell to 4-2 in shootout situations this season.

STANDINGS: Predators - 58 points, 2nd place, 3 PB, Central Division. Hurricanes - 60 points, 1st place, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Predators - Steve Sullivan, 21 goals and 40 points; Paul Kariya, 26 assists; Darcy Hordichuk, 100 PIM. Hurricanes - Eric Staal, 26 goals and 54 points; Stillman, 30 assists; Mike Commodore, 80 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Predators - Power play: 17.9 percent (50 for 280), 12th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.1 percent (240 for 282), 5th (tied). Hurricanes - Power play: 19.4 percent (54 for 278), 7th. Penalty killing: 80.8 percent (189 for 234), 22nd (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Predators - Vokoun (21-9-3, 1 SO, 2.56 GAA); Chris Mason (5-2-1, 0, 2.95). Hurricanes - Gerber (21-7-2, 3, 2.68); Cam Ward (7-3-2, 0, 3.79).

2003-04 SERIES: Predators, 0-0-0-1.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 3, 2003; Predators, 2-1 (OT). At Raleigh, N.C., Scott Harnell had an assist and the game-winning goal, while Vokoun had 40 saves in the contest.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Predators - 10-7-4 on the road; Hurricanes - 18-4-1 at home.

Associated Press
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