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- The Canes and Rangers meet tonight for the first half of a home-and-home back-to-back weekend. Tonight's game is here at PNC, and tomorrow they'll square off again at MSG. The Rangers took the first game of the season series back on October 16th in a 2-1 shootout win.
- In a rare occurrence this season, the Canes come into tonight's game savoring a victory after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 on Thursday night. Justin Faulk was awarded the game's first star with a 2-point night (assist and game-winning shorthanded goal), and after hosting it for over two weeks, Andrej Sekera was finally able to hand off the fireman's hat to Cam Ward for his 25-save performance.
- Though a feel-good moment for the home fans in the arena, reality is that the team is seven points behind its nearest opponents in the Eastern Conference, and just one point ahead of the Edmonton Oilers for last in league rankings, on pace for 56 points.
- The Canes didn't hold a practice yesterday, and there were no injuries or roster changes to report coming out of Thursday's game, so that line-up will be assumed going into tonight's game until after the pre-game skate. Coach Bill Peters mentioned earlier in the week that Alexander Semin may be close to returning, and John-Michael Liles has been day-to-day with a lower body issue. Injuries to Jiri Tlusty and Andrej Nestrasil are expected to keep them out a while longer, and while he's made great progress in his recovery, Jordan Staal has yet to participate in a practice with full contact.
- With the holiday roster freeze in effect as of midnight last night, players can't be traded, loaned, or waived until after December 27th, although there are a few provisions for emergency recalls and reassignments. The Canes currently have 22 players on the active roster and three players on injured reserve.
- Snapping the Leafs' six-game win streak was certainly cause for celebration, but doing the same thing to the Rangers, who come into tonight's game on a four-game winning streak, won't be an easy task. The Canes were 1-3-0 against them last season, and the Rangers have won 12 of the last 13 meetings.
- The Rangers have been idle since Tuesday night but prior to that played three games in four nights against Western Conference opponents. Rick Nash led the way Tuesday with two goals in a 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames. Nash, also the difference-maker in the shootout win against the Canes in October, is riding a personal best 11-game point streak and leads the team in goals (20) and points (33).
- Certainly one of the big stories for the Rangers is their having fallen victim to the mumps outbreak that has made its way through the NHL (for a full rundown, follow Katie Strang's mumps tracker on ESPN). Tanner Glass was the first confirmed case for the Rangers, missing four games. Derick Brassard, second on the team in points (24), has missed two games but practiced yesterday and is a game-day decision although expected back tonight. Lee Stepniak is isolated and being tested, along with Joey Crabb and coach Ken Gernander of the Rangers' AHL affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack. As a side note, the Canes have thus far escaped the mumps outbreak. Players have received booster shots, as necessary, and earlier this week the team postponed holiday hospital visits in order to minimize possible risks to patients.
- Martin St. Louis (91 points in 80 games), Derek Stepan (15 points in 15 games), and Mats Zuccarello (11 points in 11 games) are all point-per-game players against the Canes in their NHL careers.
- Henrik Lundqvist will get the start in net. Backup netminder Cam Talbot, who the Canes may face in net tomorrow night, was signed to a one-year, $1.45m contract extension yesterday.
Hurricanes (from Thursday's game)
Injuries and Scratches: Jordan Staal (IR broken fibula), Alexander Semin (IR lower body), Andrej Nestrasil (IR upper body), Jiri Tlusty (upper body), John-Michael Liles (upper body)
Rangers (from Friday's practice)
Injuries and Scratches: Lee Stepniak (isolation/mumps), John Moore (healthy)