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Predators look to rebound at home against Hurricanes

by Davis Harper

HURRICANES (11-12-5) at PREDATORS (13-12-3)


Last 10: Carolina 4-5-1; Nashville 5-4-1

Season series: This is the first of two games. The Nashville Predators and Carolina Hurricanes split their two games in 2011-12, with each team winning at home.

Big story: Nashville is looking to avoid going winless over a four-game homestand when it welcomes Carolina on Thursday. The Predators were riding high with wins in five of six, but are 0-2-1 in their past three at Bridgestone Arena.

The Hurricanes want to build on a 4-1 win against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. The win gave the Hurricanes a 2-0-1 record in their past three road games, a streak Carolina hopes to continue with six of its next eight coming away from PNC Arena.

Team scope:

Hurricanes: The Carolina team that showed up against Washington on Tuesday hardly resembled the group that had lost six of the eight prior games. Back on a line with captain Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner scored twice and took a season-high seven shots. Staal had two assists and backup goaltender Justin Peters stopped 26 of 27 shots as Carolina earned a vital win against a Metropolitan Division opponent.

"Everyone was engaged and committed," coach Kirk Muller said. "Overall we are pretty happy with our effort [Tuesday] in a big game coming in here."

Skinner, who missed 11 games with an upper-body injury, scored the first two goals of the game and on multiple occasions came within inches of his first NHL hat trick.

"He was off to a great start and then he got hurt," Muller said of Skinner. "Now he is starting to get in the groove again. ... He's a goal scorer, and if you give him a chance he's going to score. He's going into the tough areas to create those opportunities, and that's a big plus for us."

Predators: During their hot streak from Nov. 16-27, the Predators scored 21 goals over a 5-1-0 stretch. Currently, Nashville has three goals in three games on the current homestand.

“We have to start winning at home. That’s the bottom line,” forward Colin Wilson said. “We should be getting points here, and we should be winning.”

Goaltender Marek Mazanec was named NHL rookie of the month for November, and despite dropping his past three decisions still ranks in the top 11 in goals-against average (2.09) and save percentage (.930).

Who’s hot: Over his past five starts, Hurricanes defenseman Andrej Sekera has four goals, two assists and is a cumulative plus-6. … Wilson has two goals in his past two games.

Injury report: Staal (flu-like symptoms) is probable for Thursday. Defenseman Tim Gleason (lower body) is questionable, and forward Alexander Semin (concussion) and goalie Anton Khudobin (lower body) are on injured reserve. … Nashville captain Shea Weber (eye) is doubtful. Fellow defenseman Kevin Klein (lower body) is out indefinitely, wing Filip Forsberg (upper body) is on injured reserve and goaltender Pekka Rinne (hip surgery) continues to rehabilitate.

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