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Game Preview: Carolina Hurricanes at NY Islanders 2-11-13

The Carolina Hurricanes wind down their road trip with a back-to-back finale, in Uniondale tonight to take on the New York Islanders before heading to New Jersey to face the Devils tomorrow.

Al Bello

Carolina Hurricanes at New York Islanders
Monday, February 11, 2013 - 7:00 pm EST
Nassau Coliseum - Uniondale, NY
TV - Fox Sports Carolinas HD | Radio - 99.9 The Fan
SB Nation Islanders Blog: Lighthouse Hockey (twitter @LHHockey)

Hurricanes Record: 5-4-1 (11 points)
Islanders Record: 4-6-1 (9 points)

Tonight is the first of three meetings this season between the Hurricanes and Islanders. The Hurricanes went 0-2-2 against the Islanders last season. The Hurricanes are coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to the Flyers on Saturday afternoon, while the Islanders lost 3-2 at home to the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night.

Hurricanes Notes

The Hurricanes got off to a fast start against the Flyers on Saturday, scoring just 17 seconds into the game, but a boarding call (and game misconduct) on Tim Wallace started a momentum shift that allowed the Flyers to take the lead early in the second period and kept the Canes clawing back from a deficit for the rest of the game. Joe Corvo capitalized on a power play in the third period to tie the game, and late game heroics by goaltender Cam Ward kept the score tied into extra innings before succumbing to a game winner from Danny Briere early into the OT period.

Coming into the last two games of their six-game road trip, the Hurricanes have a respectable 2-1-1 record and have earned points in three straight games.

Eric Staal continued his points streak which is now at eight games, and Jeff Skinner extended his points streak to four games. Tim Brent has assists in three straight games. The Canes continue to produce points from the blue line, with defensemen scoring goals in seven out of the last eight games.

The Canes held an optional practice on Sunday before flying over to Long Island, so there are no updates as to any changes in the line-up. If I had to prognosticate, I think there's a good chance Andreas Nodl and Jamie McBain could replace Kevin Westgarth and Bobby Sanguinetti on the roster. Also with back-to-back games (Canes take on the Devils in New Jersey tomorrow night), Dan Ellis will likely get one of the two starts, perhaps we'll see him tonight.

Here's how the team lined up on Saturday:

Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin
Jeff Skinner - Jordan Staal - Patrick Dwyer
Drayson Bowman - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose
Kevin Westgarth - Tim Brent - Tim Wallace
Andreas Nodl (healthy scratch)

Tim Gleason - Joe Corvo
Joni Pitkanen - Justin Faulk
Jay Harrison - Bobby Sanguinetti
Jamie McBain (healthy scratch)

Cam Ward
Dan Ellis

Islanders Notes

The Islanders are in a slump, losing their last four straight and causing all kinds of consternation among Islanders fans. Their latest loss came Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres, where they dominated performance and outshot the Sabres 43-15 but failed to convert where it counted, on the score sheet.

There are really only two words you need to know about the New York Islanders going into tonight's game: John Tavares. Tavares had several chances to tie Saturday's game but fell just short with attempts dinging the posts instead of finding twine. Don't expect that to happen tonight. To say Tavares had the Canes' number last season is to put it mildly. In four games played, Tavares notched 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) and three game winners, and was a factor in 80% of the goals scored by the Islanders. I think you all know what this means. It's only a matter of how much damage he inflicts.

The Islanders added the previously-suspended Josh Bailey and Lubomir Visnovsky to Saturday's roster. Bailey had been out due to an injury suffered while playing in Germany during the lockout, while Visnovsky failed to report to training camp.

Canes fans will recognize a familiar face centering the Islanders third line. Keith Aucoin was signed as a free agent by the Hurricanes in 2005 and spent most of his tenure in the AHL (Lowell and Albany) before playing in 38 games in 2007-08. Aucoin was with the Maple Leafs at the start of the training camp but was claimed off waivers by the Islanders on January 17th. He has four goals and one assist in eleven games.

Evgeni Nabokov has started 10 out of 11 games so far for the Islanders, and with a break between games, one would assume he gets the start again tonight. Nabokov is 8-1-1 against the Canes with a 2.04 GAA and one shutout. Backup Rick DiPietro is 5-12-1 in 19 appearances.

Here's how the Islanders lined up on Saturday:

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Brad Boyes

Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo

Davie Ullstrom - Keith Aucoin - Colin McDonald

Josh Bailey - Casey Cizikas - Matt Martin

Andy MacDonald - Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey - Mark Streit

Brian Strait - Lubomir Visnovsky

Evgeni Nabokov
Rick DiPietro

Brian will be sharing his three questions shortly, and we'll start the game thread at 6:30 pm. See you there.