Hurricanes eye seventh straight home win

NY Islanders (24-38-8) at Carolina (37-28-7), 7:00 p.m. EDT

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — The last time the Carolina
Hurricanes won seven consecutive home games, they went on to win
their first Stanley Cup. This season, they’re hoping a similar
run will help them make a return to the playoffs.

Carolina looks to push its winning streak at the RBC Center to
seven Friday when it faces the NHL-worst New York Islanders.

The Hurricanes, occupying the final playoff spot in the Eastern
Conference, defeated Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey 4-2 on
Wednesday at home. Carolina hasn’t put together a seven-game
home winning streak since a franchise-record nine-game run from
December 31, 2005-January 28, 2006 – the season it went on to
capture the Stanley Cup.

The Hurricanes, though, haven’t qualified for the playoffs

A home-heavy schedule could help them avoid a third consecutive
disappointing season. The Hurricanes play seven of their
remaining 10 games at Raleigh and host the Islanders again April

“We’re really bringing it together and it’s hard to believe we
only have 10 games left,” Carolina’s Cam Ward told the team’s
official Web site after making 41 saves against the Devils. “If
we play the way we played (Wednesday) in those last 10 games I
like our chances.”

Carolina is 9-3-2 in its last 14, stretch that began with a 6-2
road win over New York on February 19.

Anton Babchuk scored two goals Tuesday and has played a big role
in Carolina’s surge. The defenseman has seven of his career-high
11 goals along with four assists in the last 14 games.

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His hot streak started with a goal and an assist against the
Islanders in February.

“He’s got a huge shot, and when he gets a chance to step into it
he’s been real good,” Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. “A lot
of that is confidence and he’s scored enough this year where he
wants the puck. There are not a lot of guys who want to stand in
front of his shot.”

The Hurricanes have won both meetings this season with the
Islanders, who have the fewest points in the league. However,
both of those contests were at Nassau Coliseum, and Carolina has
dropped the last two matchups at the RBC Center.

The Hurricanes will also be facing an Isles team that’s 6-2-1 in
its last nine games after beating Chicago 4-2 on Sunday. The
victory improved New York to 2-1-1 on its season-high six-game
road trip, which concludes against Ottawa on Saturday.

Defenseman Mark Streit, New York’s leader with 52 points, had
two goals and an assist against the Blackhawks to give him three
goals and three assists in the last three games.

Streit has four goals and three assists in his last nine games
against Carolina. He scored a goal in each of this season’s
first two matchups.