After a strong finish to their just-completed road trip, the Carolina Hurricanes hope that playing at home until the Olympic break will help them continue their recent success.
Hosting the slumping Florida Panthers could also help them in their mission to get out of the Southeast Division basement.
The Hurricanes will try to win their fourth in a row at RBC Center on Tuesday night when they take on a Panthers club that’s won only twice in Raleigh since January 2003.
After losing the first two games, Carolina (21-30-7) earned a split of the four-game trip by defeating Buffalo and the New York Islanders over the weekend. Rookie Justin Peters(notes) turned away 34 shots in his NHL debut in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the Islanders - the Hurricanes’ sixth win in eight games.
“Justin’s performance says that he deserves another shot, and we want to see him,” Carolina coach Paul Maurice told the team’s official Web site Monday.
Peters, though, will not start until Thursday versus Buffalo or Saturday against New Jersey in the Hurricanes’ final game before the Olympic break.
With Cam Ward(notes) out with a back injury, Manny Legace(notes) will be in net Tuesday when Carolina tries to win four straight at home for the first time since a franchise-record 12-game run from Feb. 20-April 7 of last season.
Carolina, which trails the Panthers (24-25-9) by eight points in the division, has outscored Florida 10-4 in two victories at RBC Center this season. Since Jan. 24, 2003, the Hurricanes are 18-2-0 with a tie at home against the Panthers.
Legace, who owns a 1.44 goals-against average in six career starts versus Florida, will take on a Panthers team that has totaled four goals during its four-game road losing streak. Despite Radek Dvorak’s(notes) two first-period scores, the Panthers dropped their third straight overall on Saturday, 4-2 at Atlanta.
“We had the game under control. We were up by two goals, then the game shifted a little bit to their side,” said Dvorak, who was scoreless in his previous 15 games.
Dvorak hasn’t been the only Panther struggling to find the back of the net. Stephen Weiss(notes), who leads Florida with 20 goals, has scored once in his last 10 contests and has two goals in 17 career games at Carolina. With Nathan Horton(notes) already out until after the Olympic break with a fractured tibia, the Panthers could be without Weiss on Tuesday after he missed Saturday’s loss with a lower-body injury.
Florida’s 3-for-38 effort on the power play over the last 10 games has put even more pressure on Tomas Vokoun(notes), who is expected to make his 19th consecutive start Tuesday. Vokoun, who allowed a season-high five goals in a 7-2 loss in Raleigh on Oct. 9, is 1-5-2 with a 3.58 GAA in his last nine starts at Carolina.
Vokoun needs one victory to reach 20 for the seventh straight season.