NY Islanders (27-33-11) at Carolina (32-29-10)

By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN, STATS Senior Writer Thursday, Mar 17, 2011 Puck Drop: 7:00 pm EDT Fri Mar 18, 2011

The Carolina Hurricanes are in a slump, so facing a last-place team which hasn’t beaten them in regulation over the last three seasons could be an ideal scenario.

The Hurricanes look to boost their playoff hopes Friday night when they seek a fifth straight win over the visiting New York Islanders.

Carolina (32-29-10) is 1-4-1 in its last six to fall outside the top eight in the Eastern Conference. The Hurricanes have scored two goals or fewer in each of those contests.

“It’s a few games in a row we haven’t been able to put the puck in the net a lot,” center Brandon Sutter(notes) said. “We’ve got to start finding ways.”

The Hurricanes wasted a 37-19 advantage in shots on goal in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to fellow contender Toronto. Chad LaRose(notes) ended the team’s 0-for-28 power-play drought in the first period to give Carolina the lead before it came up empty on 25 shots over the final two periods.

“We’re frustrated with that one, offensively frustrated,” coach Paul Maurice said. “We’ve got a lot of pucks sitting around that crease, we’re just having a heck of a time banging them in, and that gets frustrating.”

If history is any indication, the Hurricanes may be able to break out against New York (27-33-11). They are 8-0-2 in 10 meetings with the Islanders since the start of the 2008-09 season, scoring at least three goals in every game and averaging 4.8.

Carolina equaled its highest output of the season in the only matchup in Raleigh, winning 7-2 on Nov. 3.

Cam Ward(notes) started that victory and a 4-2 win at New York on Jan. 26, improving to 12-2-1 with a 2.26 goals-against average in 15 career starts against New York. Ward, who has a 1.87 GAA this month, has started 29 of the Hurricanes’ last 30 games.

Eric Staal(notes) has team highs of 29 goals and 63 points but hasn’t scored in five straight games. He’s produced 14 points in his last eight against New York.

Staal is not Carolina’s only struggling forward.

Rookie Jeff Skinner(notes) and Erik Cole(notes) are second and third on the team with 24 and 19 goals, respectively, but have combined for three over the last six games.

“It wears on your offensive guys because they want to produce to help the team win,” Maurice said. “We’re shooting the puck we want to shoot it.”

The Islanders have lost five straight on the road, falling 6-3 to the Rangers on Tuesday. Al Montoya(notes) gave up three power-play goals and five overall through two periods before he was pulled.

“We took some penalties and they capitalized,” left wing Matt Moulson(notes) said. “It’s tough to win when you’re short-handed for most of the second period.”

Moulson had a goal and two assists, reaching 30 goals for the second straight season.

“It would be a lot nicer if they were contributing to big wins,” Moulson said. “I’ve got to do whatever it takes to win, so if I’ve got to get a couple more, I’ll get a couple more.”

The Islanders, ahead of only Ottawa in the East, had been 4-0-3 in March before Tuesday’s loss.

Montoya has never faced Carolina. He’s started the last seven games since rookie Nathan Lawson(notes) made his last start March 1 against Washington.

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