Ducks-Hurricanes Preview

The Associated Press

The surging Carolina Hurricanes have proven extremely stingy since struggling through their longest losing steak of the season.

Jeff Skinner's possible return could give them a much-needed boost at the other end of the ice.

Carolina tries to extend its season-high point streak to five Friday night against the visiting Anaheim Ducks, who are hoping to get captain Ryan Getzlaf back.

After getting outscored 18-5 during an 0-5-0 skid, the Hurricanes (7-7-4) have surrendered four goals in going 3-0-1. Carolina, which only has seven goals of its own during that stretch, continued its recent defensive prowess Tuesday in a 2-1 win over Colorado.

"In the last few games we've been building on those little details," Jordan Staal said after posting a goal and an assist. "We've been talking in the room a lot more and getting the guys aware of what we need to do to. It's been the short shifts, the strong plays at the blue line and all those little things that's keeping the other teams away from big opportunities and wearing them down."

Patrick Dwyer also notched two points and Justin Peters continued his stellar play with 33 saves as the Hurricanes handed the Avalanche their first road loss.

"The 'D' did an awesome job helping me out," said Peters, who has recorded a 0.97 goals-against average while starting each of the last four games. "We talked about before the game how we wanted to protect the house and we did that. This just shows how well we can play when we stick to the process and do things the right way."

The Hurricanes, 1 for 17 on the power play this month, figure to benefit from Skinner's return. The fourth-year forward, who has missed the last eight games with an upper-body injury, returned to practice Thursday and has a chance to dress in this game.

Despite his absence, Skinner is tied with Nathan Gerbe and captain Eric Staal for the team lead with nine points.

"He's a special player," coach Kirk Muller told the team's official website. "He's been skating a lot. ... Conditioning-wise with the type of game he plays, he can jump in."

On the verge of a season-worst third consecutive loss, the Ducks (15-5-1) could be getting some help from Getzlaf, who is nearing a return after missing three games with an upper-body injury.

"If not (Friday), hopefully Monday," coach Bruce Boudreau said of Getzlaf, who leads the Ducks with 22 points in 18 games. "He's getting close."

After falling 3-2 at Florida on Tuesday, Anaheim failed to get much going again in Thursday's 5-1 loss at Tampa Bay. Jonas Hiller stopped just 15 shots as his road GAA rose to 3.23, significantly higher than his home mark of 1.82.

Corey Perry played despite missing the morning skate due to the flu. Several players, including Hiller, have battled the same illness of late.

"If you want to give excuses, yeah. They are," Boudreau said. "We just didn't compete hard enough in a game that was an important game. And when you don't compete against a team that competes, it doesn't matter who's in the lineup or who's out of the lineup, you're not going to have success."

Hurricanes forward Radek Dvorak, who had four goals in nine games with Anaheim in 2012-13, is uncertain to face his former team after leaving Tuesday's win with a lower-body injury. Dvorak has one goal in his last 13 games after scoring in each of the first two.

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