January 5, 2014 - 7:00 pm ET
PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
TV - Fox Sports Carolinas
Radio - 99.9 The Fan
Hurricanes Record: 17-16-9 (43 pts.)
Predators Record: 18-18-6 (42 pts.)
The Carolina Hurricanes return to home ice tonight riding a three game win streak and looking to claw back in to a playoff spot. Jeff Skinner continued his hot streak last night with an assist on Brett Sutter's goal and will look to keep that streak going tonight. Manny Malhotra also kept his goal scoring streak alive with his third goal in three games. Jordan Staal scored the Hurricanes other goal.
Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, the captain Eric Staal left the game midway through the second last night. Staal returned from the locker room prior to the end of the second period and skated briefly during a commercial break. He returned to the locker room a short time later and sat out the rest of the game. Reports last night indicated that Eric Staal was dealing with a lower body concern. Chip Alexander provided some additional information this morning via twitter noting that Eric Staal was injured in the Capitals game and tried to play through the injury last night against the Islanders.
Both teams come in to tonight's game having played last night and having traveled. The Canes shot out to a 3-1 lead after two periods last night and held on to win 3-2 after a late power play goal from Tomas Vanek. Nashville stormed back last night against the surging Florida Panthers, erasing a third period two goal deficit to tie the game before losing in a shoot out. Both teams started games last night with 41 points in 41 games and sixth in the wild card standings. In an odd quirk of the standing the Canes found themselves only 3 points out of a playoff spot while the Predators where 8 points out.
Marek Manzanec got the start in net last night for the Predators, giving up 4 goals on 26 shots. No word yet on if Manzanec or Carter Hutton will get the start tonight. Anton Khudobin was in net for the Canes for his second straight game. Khudobin had some issues with his rebound control early, but got better and better as the game wore on en route to what should have been a first star performance stopping 38 of 40 shots. Given it was his second straight start and that the Canes are playing back to back it would not be a shock if Coach Muller went back to Justin Peters tonight. Khudobin's play last night will not make the decision an easy one for coach Muller. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.
The Canes last faced the Nashville Predators on December 5th of last year in a game the Canes won 5-2. That game was notable in that it was the first career hat trick for Jeff Skinner, a feat he was able to replicate just a few nights ago. The Canes managed to chase Manzanec after four goals in the first two periods in that game, but were not able to get a puck past Hutton in the third period.
Not surprisingly there will be no morning skate for the Hurricanes. Given Eric Staal's injury the Canes are likely to recall a player prior to tonight's game. ** UPDATE ** The Canes have recalled Aaron Palushaj to take Eric Staal's spot on the roster.
As always, the game thread will start 30 minutes prior to puck drop. We look forward to seeing you there.