The New York Islanders are in danger of heading into the playoffs mired in one of their longest slumps of the season.
But defenseman Janne Niinimaa is confident the club is poised to snap out of the funk.
“There’s good signs, and it turns around in a hurry,” he said.
The Islanders look to snap a five-game winless streak when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes in the regular-season finale for both teams.
New York is 0-4-1 during the winless streak—one shy of a season-high six-game losing streak from Oct. 26-Nov. 7—and is coming off Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers.
The Isles have been outscored 21-8 during the skid.
“Mentally and physically, guys are worn down,” Islanders forward Dave Scatchard said. “Bottom line is: We’re in the playoffs and it doesn’t take much to get jacked up for that.”
The Islanders’ loss Saturday guaranteed they will finish eighth in the Eastern Conference and play the top-seeded Ottawa Senators in the opening round.
The only thing going well for the Islanders is the emergence of Alexei Yashin, who had struggled offensively for most of the season. Yashin, who was traded from Ottawa to New York before last season, continued his scoring surge Saturday with his 10th goal in his last eight games.
The center also has five assists during the stretch.
“We’re in the playoffs,” Yashin said, “and we just have to be focused on our challenge.”
Carolina, which will finish last in the league after making a surprising run to the Stanley Cup finals last season, is winless over its last 10 games after Friday’s 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers.
Despite the disappointing season, the Hurricanes are intent on finishing with a victory.
“We have pride,” defenseman Sean Hill said. “We definitely don’t want to lose. Our fans have been good, they’ve stuck by us. They’ve supported us so well.
“It would be nice to get a win and let them go out on a happy note and hopefully we can come back next year and bounce back.”
STANDINGS: Islanders - 81 points, 3rd place, 26 PB, Atlantic Division. Hurricanes - 61 points, 5th place, 32 PB, Southeast Division.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through April 4): Islanders - Power play: 15.0 percent (56 for 374), 17th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.0 percent (328 for 395), 17th. Hurricanes - Power play: 14.0 percent (58 for 415), 27th. Penalty killing: 81.7 percent (318 for 389), 25th.
SEASON SERIES: Hurricanes, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 28; Islanders, 3-0. At Uniondale, N.Y., Yashin, Mark Parrish and Michael Peca scored for the Islanders, while Roman Hamrlik assisted on all three goals. Weekes made 26 saves for Carolina.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Islanders - 16-16-6-2 on the road; Hurricanes - 12-16-9-3 at home.