Although it didn't show in the result, the New York Islanders looked like an improved team with two key players making their season debuts.
Perhaps they can translate that into a win against the lone Eastern Conference opponent that didn't beat them last season.
The Carolina Hurricanes look to continue a successful road trip Monday night and end a four-game skid against the Islanders, who have dropped four straight overall.
New York (4-6-1) reinstated a pair of suspended players before Saturday's game against Buffalo. Josh Bailey had been out after getting injured while playing in Germany during the lockout, while Lubomir Visnovsky initially did not report to the Islanders.
Bailey had a team-high seven shots on goal and Visnovsky was a plus-2 against the Sabres. The Islanders outshot Buffalo 43-15, but lost 3-2.
"I felt good conditioning-wise and good with the puck," Bailey told the Islanders' official website. "It was a good start. Hopefully I can build off it. Vish played a great game as well. You look at him and you can see he's definitely going to help our squad."
Visnovsky heard some boos from the home fans in his Islanders debut after being acquired in a trade over the summer, but he could provide a boost for New York's power play, which is 0 for 22 during the team's four-game skid.
He ranks among the top NHL defensemen with 177 power-play points since 2005.
"I was pleased with his game for a guy who hasn't played for the last three, four weeks," said coach Jack Capuano, who thought his team "deserved better" than a regulation defeat against the Sabres.
John Tavares wasn't making any excuses.
"We got to win hockey games, we have to get results," Tavares said. "We got to find a way to get points we need ... and there's not much time."
The Islanders got plenty last season against Carolina, winning all four meetings after the Hurricanes had gone 10-0-2 in the previous 12 matchups. Carolina had no answer for Tavares, allowing the New York star to rack up six goals and six assists in the 2011-12 series as the Islanders went 5 for 10 on the power play.
The Hurricanes (5-4-1) are trying to tighten up on defense after Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss in Philadelphia, but they're still satisfied with their trip to this point. They are 2-1-1 on the six-game trek that concludes Tuesday night against New Jersey.
"All in all, we pick up a point here on the road on a long road trip, which is great," coach Kirk Muller said. "Defensively, we've got to continue to win more battles."
Eric Staal had an assist against the Flyers to extend his point streak to eight games. He has seven goals in that stretch and is off to a much better start than last season.
Through 11 games in 2011-12, he had five points and a minus-13 rating. Staal enters his 11th game Monday at plus-6 with 12 points.
He has seven goals in his last eight games on Long Island, but didn't have any against New York last season.
Both of these teams' No. 1 goalies have stellar numbers against Monday's opponent. Evgeni Nabokov is 8-1-1 with a 2.04 goals-against average in 11 career games against the Hurricanes, while Cam Ward is 14-3-3 with a 2.33 GAA versus the Islanders.
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- Carolina Hurricanes
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- Lubomir Visnovsky