The last time the Carolina Hurricanes won seven consecutive home games, they went on to win their first Stanley Cup. This season, they’re hoping a similar run will help them make a return to the playoffs.
Carolina looks to push its winning streak at the RBC Center to seven Friday when it faces the NHL-worst New York Islanders.
The Hurricanes (37-28-7), occupying the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, defeated Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey 4-2 on Wednesday at home. Carolina hasn’t put together a seven-game home winning streak since a franchise-record nine-game run from Dec. 31, 2005-Jan. 28, 2006 - the season it went on to capture the Stanley Cup.
The Hurricanes, though, haven’t qualified for the playoffs since.
A home-heavy schedule could help them avoid a third consecutive disappointing season. The Hurricanes play seven of their remaining 10 games at Raleigh and host the Islanders (24-38-8) again April 7.
“We’re really bringing it together and it’s hard to believe we only have 10 games left,” Carolina’s Cam Ward told the team’s official Web site after making 41 saves against the Devils. “If we play the way we played (Wednesday) in those last 10 games I like our chances.”
Carolina is 9-3-2 in its last 14, stretch that began with a 6-2 road win over New York on Feb. 19.
Anton Babchuk scored two goals Tuesday and has played a big role in Carolina’s surge. The defenseman has seven of his career-high 11 goals along with four assists in the last 14 games.
His hot streak started with a goal and an assist against the Islanders in February.
“He’s got a huge shot, and when he gets a chance to step into it he’s been real good,” Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. “A lot of that is confidence and he’s scored enough this year where he wants the puck. There are not a lot of guys who want to stand in front of his shot.”
The Hurricanes have won both meetings this season with the Islanders, who have the fewest points in the league. However, both of those contests were at Nassau Coliseum, and Carolina has dropped the last two matchups at the RBC Center.
The Hurricanes will also be facing an Isles team that’s 6-2-1 in its last nine games after beating Chicago 4-2 on Sunday. The victory improved New York to 2-1-1 on its season-high six-game road trip, which concludes against Ottawa on Saturday.
Defenseman Mark Streit, New York’s leader with 52 points, had two goals and an assist against the Blackhawks to give him three goals and three assists in the last three games.
Streit has four goals and three assists in his last nine games against Carolina. He scored a goal in each of this season’s first two matchups.