NEW YORK — The New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes agree on at least one thing heading into their game Saturday night: They are both glad to be playing for the second time in as many nights.
A pair of teams fighting to get back into the Eastern Conference playoff race will square off when the Islanders host the Hurricanes at Barclays Center in the second game of a back-to-back for both clubs.
The Islanders’ point streak ended in stunning fashion Friday, when the host Detroit Red Wings scored on what amounted to an “own goal” by New York with 27.9 seconds left in the third period to pull out a 5-4 win.
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The Hurricanes won their second straight on Friday, when Sebastian Aho scored the tie-breaking goal 1:48 into the third period of a 2-1 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oilers.
The loss by the Islanders — which snapped a 6-0-1 streak — was particularly costly. Five Eastern Conference teams currently not occupying a playoff spot played Friday night, and New York was the only one not to collect a point.
The Islanders appeared to be in position to at least gain the “loser’s point” when Jason Chimera tied the game with 2:26 remaining in regulation. But defensemen Thomas Hickey and Nick Leddy each accidentally redirected a shot by Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser into the net to give New York its first regulation defeat since a 7-4 loss to the Hurricanes on Jan. 14.
“That was a tough one, off Nick and off ‘Hicks,'” said Islanders interim head coach Doug Weight, who is 5-1-1 since taking over for Jack Capuano on Jan. 17. “That was a tough one to swallow. But we’ve got a huge game back at Barclays Center, so we’ll get on a plane and go home and (Saturday) come out with a new attitude.”
The Hurricanes, whose victory Friday tied them with the Islanders for 11th in the conference at 53 points, hope playing again Saturday will maintain the momentum created this week. Carolina snapped a five-game losing streak Tuesday, when it beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-1.
“It’s a big game, it’s a tough game, obviously, going up there,” Hurricanes center Jordan Staal said of Saturday’s game. “They’re fighting for their lives as well, so it’s going to be a good challenge for this group and hopefully we’re up for it.”
Since Islanders starting goalie Thomas Greiss and Hurricanes No. 1 netminder Cam Ward each played Friday, New York backup Jean-Francois Berube and Carolina second-stringer Michael Leighton will likely oppose each other on Saturday.
Berube and Leighton each has made just three starts this season. Both last appeared in a game on Jan. 21, when Berube earned the win by stopping 34 of 36 shots in the Islanders’ 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings at Barclays Center while Leighton took the loss after recording 17 saves in a 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.