Islanders-Hurricanes Preview

The New York Islanders started the season by sweeping a home-and-home set with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Another victory would ensure they remain alone atop the Metropolitan Division.

After having their four-game winning streak snapped, the Islanders seek to bounce back against the last-place Hurricanes on Wednesday night.

New York (37-19-1) leads the division by two points over the idle New York Rangers and Pittsburgh, which hosts Washington.

The Islanders' unexpected rise started with a 5-3 season-opening win at Carolina (19-28-7) on Oct. 10. They followed that up a day later by beating the Hurricanes 4-3 at home.

New York enters this visit to Raleigh after squandering three two-goal leads before falling 6-5 to the Rangers on Monday.

"It's part of the game," said defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who scored a goal and was tripped in the neutral zone on the tying tally in the third period. "No reason to panic. When we were up two, same thing. Just keep emotions in check and play your game."

Boychuk did just that against the Hurricanes earlier this season, totaling a goal and four assists in the two victories.

John Tavares has 12 goals and 13 assists in the last 13 games versus Carolina, finding the net nine times and at least once in seven of eight home meetings over that stretch.

The captain has five points in two overall meetings this season, while Brock Nelson has six.

Nelson's success in that home-and-home set triggered his terrific start to 2014-15. The center had 14 goals and set a career high with 27 points over the first 33 games, but he's managed just one goal and five assists in 24 games since.

While the Islanders are all but certain to make the playoffs, the Hurricanes are at the bottom of the Metropolitan and headed for a sixth straight season out of the postseason.

Carolina is giving up an average of 3.57 goals during a 3-3-1 stretch, but the team is trying to build on the momentum created by Monday's 6-3 win at Ottawa.

"It was definitely a huge game for us," center Andrej Nestrasil told the league's official website. "We played a really good game, strong on the puck, making plays and good in the D-zone, so we really deserved it."

Nestrasil has been a pleasant surprise lately, collecting five points in four games. That includes three goals, and the rookie got his latest Monday while getting a season-high three points.

The Hurricanes are also getting some unexpected production from rookie Michal Jordan, who has three points in two games after being recalled from Charlotte of the AHL. The defenseman had two points against the Senators, including his first career goal.

"Even better. More poise," coach Bill Peters said of Jordan's recent performances. "The first time he was up, I believe he played 13 games (16 actually). He didn't have a point. He comes up now, in the first game he gets an assist and in the second game he gets a goal. It's a pretty goal, a win and one he'll remember."

Jordan's tally Monday came on the power play as Carolina went 3 for 5 after going 4 for 37 over the previous 13 games. The Hurricanes are facing an Islanders' penalty-killing unit that ranks 29th in the league at 73.9 percent.


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