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Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Islanders

No 'Easy Games' for the Canes

Tuesday, 01.3.2012 / 12:22 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Islanders
Looking at the statistics, it’s easy to draw similarities between the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders.

Michael Smith
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Both teams have 13 wins and 32 points. Both teams average around 2.5 goals per game and 3.2 goals against per game. Neither team has won a game when trailing after two periods, and both teams have just one regulation loss when leading after two.

That said, tonight will be no easy game for the Hurricanes, who have won three straight and four of their last five games at home.

“Every game right now for us, in order to climb the ladder, we’ve got to win, whether it’s at home or on the road,” Eric Staal said. “We’ve beaten some pretty good teams, and we’re one of the teams that are lower in the standings in the Eastern Conference, so there are no easy games for anybody.”

“Honestly, I look at every opponent as being hard,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “There are no easy games anymore. Every dressing room is saying the same thing. It’s all one goal games, so your competitive level has to be high.”

Lately at home, the Canes’ competitive level has been high, save a few breakdowns here and there. In their last home game, the Canes surrendered two quick goals in the third period. They responded, however, to tie the game and win in overtime. It’s that confidence that Muller wants to see on a more consistent basis.

“We haven’t obviously been perfect,” Muller said. “We’ve had our little meltdowns at times. But when we’re going and playing our game, the guys are starting to believe we can play with any team. Now we’ve just got to understand we have to do it consistently.”

“It’s a big game for us at home against a team we want to beat,” Staal said. “We’re coming off a loss there in Tampa, and we’ve got to make sure we remember that feeling of a loss and kind of hold that inside and come out here tonight aggressive, strong and confident at home. We’ve been playing well here, and we want to keep that going.”

The Hurricanes have had a good bit of success against the Islanders as of late. Strangely enough, this is the first of four meetings between the teams this season, three of which will be played in January. Carolina swept the season series in 2010-11, outscoring the Islanders 18-8 in the four games. In their last 23 meetings, dating back to January of 2006, the Canes are 17-3-3. To find the last time the Canes lost in regulation to the Islanders, you have to go back to Oct. 25, 2008; in the 12 meetings since then, the Canes are 10-0-2.

Cam Ward will start tonight for the Hurricanes, and his success against the Islanders follows closely with the team’s. Ward is 14-2-1 with a 2.21 goals against average and one shutout versus New York.

So, though there are no easy games in the NHL, recent statistics and their play at home favors the Hurricanes. That said, only the score after 60 or more minutes tonight matters.

“You enjoy games when you win games,” Staal said. “Hopefully, we’ll get off to the right start [in the New Year] here tonight.”

INJURY UPDATE

Jeff Skinner, who has missed the last 10 games with a concussion, skated in a yellow, non-contact jersey with the team for the second day in a row. While he’ll most likely not be cleared for contact until later in the week at the earliest, it is expected that he will continue to practice with the team moving forward.

Patrick Dwyer, who has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury, also skated today in a non-contact jersey. This was his first time on the ice since being out of the lineup.

“No contact, but it was a step ahead,” Muller said. “Anytime you get the yellow jerseys out, it’s one step closer. He felt pretty good, so we’ll see how he adjusts tomorrow.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81