Hurricanes-Predators Preview

While the Carolina Hurricanes opened a road-heavy stretch with a

crucial win their last time out, their visits to Bridgestone Arena

haven’t gone nearly as well.

The last-place Nashville Predators, though, haven’t had much of

a home-ice advantage of late.

The Hurricanes go for their second win in nine road meetings

against Nashville, which tries to avoid a fourth consecutive loss

Thursday night.

Carolina (11-12-5) was limited to an average of 2.5 goals during

a 2-5-1 stretch before bouncing back with Tuesday’s 4-1 win at

Washington. Jeff Skinner scored twice and added an assist while

Justin Peters stopped 26 shots.

“He got off to a great start and then he got hurt,” coach Kirk

Muller said of Skinner, who was playing in his seventh game after

missing 11 with an upper-body injury. “Now he’s starting to get in

the groove again. He’s a goal scorer, and if you give him a chance

he’s going to score.”

Despite his lengthy absence, Skinner’s six goals are tied with

three other players for the team lead.

“Skin’s a really gifted player and he goes right to the hard

areas,” said Peters, whose team plays five of its next six away

from home. “He got rewarded from playing within our system. It’s

great to see. I’m happy for him.”

Skinner will try to build on his latest display against

Nashville (13-12-3), which has taken four straight home meetings

from Carolina by a combined 15-6 score. The Predators have limited

the Hurricanes to 13 goals in going 7-1-0 all-time at home.

Currently last in the Central Division, Nashville had won five

of six before scoring three goals during an 0-2-1 slide, with each

of those losses coming at home. Colin Wilson provided the offense

with his fifth goal in Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat to Vancouver.

“It’s good to get that goal,” said Wilson, who also scored in

Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Philadelphia. “We have to start

scoring.”

Marek Mazanec had allowed two or zero goals in eight consecutive

games before making 30 saves Tuesday. The Canucks went 1 for 4 on

the man advantage, snapping the Predators’ eight-game stretch

without allowing a power-play goal.

“Both teams were playing, and we were matched pretty evenly,”

coach Barry Trotz said. “It came down to who was more detailed,

disciplined, and who was winning all of those 1-on-1 battles.”

Mazanec, the NHL’s rookie of the month for November, dropped to

1-3-1 despite a 2.21 goals-against average in his last five home

starts. Peters had gone 0-5-0 with a 3.68 GAA on the road before

beating the Capitals.

Peters allowed all five goals in a 5-2 loss at Nashville on Jan.

7, 2012, his only appearance in the series. He will need to be wary

of Patric Hornqvist, who has five goals and an assist in three

career home games in the series.

Hurricanes captain Eric Staal has 12 points in his last 10

games, including six during a five-game scoring streak on the road.

While Staal had a goal and two assists in a 4-3 win over the

Predators on Feb. 28, 2012, he has just one point in three trips to

Nashville.

These teams didn’t play in 2012-13 due to the lockout.

The Predators have surrendered an NHL-low eight power-play goals

since Oct. 12. Carolina has posted the league’s worst power-play

percentage (8.9) since Nov. 5, going 4 for its last 45.