Hurricanes-Predators Preview

The Associated Press

While the Carolina Hurricanes opened a road-heavy stretch with a crucial win their last time out, their visits to Bridgestone Arena haven't gone nearly as well.

The last-place Nashville Predators, though, haven't had much of a home-ice advantage of late.

The Hurricanes go for their second win in nine road meetings against Nashville, which tries to avoid a fourth consecutive loss Thursday night.

Carolina (11-12-5) was limited to an average of 2.5 goals during a 2-5-1 stretch before bouncing back with Tuesday's 4-1 win at Washington. Jeff Skinner scored twice and added an assist while Justin Peters stopped 26 shots.

"He got off to a great start and then he got hurt," coach Kirk Muller said of Skinner, who was playing in his seventh game after missing 11 with an upper-body injury. "Now he's starting to get in the groove again. He's a goal scorer, and if you give him a chance he's going to score."

Despite his lengthy absence, Skinner's six goals are tied with three other players for the team lead.

"Skin's a really gifted player and he goes right to the hard areas," said Peters, whose team plays five of its next six away from home. "He got rewarded from playing within our system. It's great to see. I'm happy for him."

Skinner will try to build on his latest display against Nashville (13-12-3), which has taken four straight home meetings from Carolina by a combined 15-6 score. The Predators have limited the Hurricanes to 13 goals in going 7-1-0 all-time at home.

Currently last in the Central Division, Nashville had won five of six before scoring three goals during an 0-2-1 slide, with each of those losses coming at home. Colin Wilson provided the offense with his fifth goal in Tuesday's 3-1 defeat to Vancouver.

"It's good to get that goal," said Wilson, who also scored in Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to Philadelphia. "We have to start scoring."

Marek Mazanec had allowed two or zero goals in eight consecutive games before making 30 saves Tuesday. The Canucks went 1 for 4 on the man advantage, snapping the Predators' eight-game stretch without allowing a power-play goal.

"Both teams were playing, and we were matched pretty evenly," coach Barry Trotz said. "It came down to who was more detailed, disciplined, and who was winning all of those 1-on-1 battles."

Mazanec, the NHL's rookie of the month for November, dropped to 1-3-1 despite a 2.21 goals-against average in his last five home starts. Peters had gone 0-5-0 with a 3.68 GAA on the road before beating the Capitals.

Peters allowed all five goals in a 5-2 loss at Nashville on Jan. 7, 2012, his only appearance in the series. He will need to be wary of Patric Hornqvist, who has five goals and an assist in three career home games in the series.

Hurricanes captain Eric Staal has 12 points in his last 10 games, including six during a five-game scoring streak on the road. While Staal had a goal and two assists in a 4-3 win over the Predators on Feb. 28, 2012, he has just one point in three trips to Nashville.

These teams didn't play in 2012-13 due to the lockout.

The Predators have surrendered an NHL-low eight power-play goals since Oct. 12. Carolina has posted the league's worst power-play percentage (8.9) since Nov. 5, going 4 for its last 45.