Carolina Hurricanes (16-16-9) at New York Islanders (14-21-7)
|Date & Time||Saturday January 4, 2014, 7:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: New York Islanders -131 / Carolina Hurricanes +119 --- Over/Under: 5.5
After a five game losing streak the Carolina Hurricanes have bounced back wih two consecutive wins. Anton Khudobin was between the pipes for Thursday night's game against the Washington Capitals and despite giving up three goals was the best player on the ice for the Hurricanes. Someone has to stand up and take charge of this goaltending job that right now sees Justin Peters at the top with Khudobin returning and Cam Ward still somewhere in there. Perhaps it's not the worst thing for this hockey club because they still haven't been able to lock anybody into that spot so maybe a good competition is exactly what they need to get them going. Jeff Skinner netted the hat trick, including the game winning goal in overtime to lift the Hurricanes to the 4-3 win. Now they'll travel to New York to take on an Islanders club that will look to follow up their big win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
It was an ugly first period for the Islanders in their game with the Chicago Blackhawks but it was one that they found themselves winning by a goal after 20 minutes. Evgeni Nabokov held the fort and the Islanders got a big goal from Casey Cizikas to take a 1-0 lead with them into the locker room. Whatever it was that was said during the intermission certainly clicked because the Islanders played neck and neck with arguably the best team in the league the rest of the way. Over the final 40 minutes New York outshot Chicago 28-26 and after blowing a 2-0 lead found a way to win in overtime on a goal from Kyle Okposo. With the way he's played this season Okposo deserved to be named to the U.S. Olympic team but was snubbed and now needs to use that as motivation. Thomas Vanek also added his 14th goal of the year in the second period. Nabokov continues to play well since returning from his injury and they'll need another strong performance out of him against a potent Hurricanes offense on Saturday.
These two teams have been up and down all season long but the way that New York played on Thursday was very impressive. It's so frustrating to see the Islanders play so well and then watch them put a month of terrible hockey together. If the Islanders are going to get back in the race they need to beat teams like Carolina on their home ice.