Three things to watch at the Carolina Hurricanes face the New York Islanders on Saturday in Brooklyn:
Cam Ward again?
After the Canes’ morning skate Friday there were questions about Cam Ward’s availability. The goalie appeared in injure his right hand after being hit by a puck and left the skate early, and Canes coach Bill Peters said the starting goalie against Edmonton — Ward or Eddie Lack — would be a gametime decision.
Ward was the starter and had 24 saves in the 2-1 win over the Oilers. But Peters said that did not mean Lack will draw his first start since Nov. 6 on Saturday against the New York Islanders.
Lack is eager to play after missing 26 of 30 games with a concussion and Peters has said he wants to get him into a game sooner rather than later. Does “sooner” mean Saturday? “Sooner is this week,” Peters said Friday.
Lack was the winner in a road game against the Islanders last season.
Slavin and Pesce
Canes defenseman Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce spent much of Friday’s game on the ice against Oilers center Connor McDavid’s line. McDavid, who leads the NHL in points and assists, scored in the second period but managed just two shots.
While Peters was able to dictate matchups with the last change Friday, he’ll likely try and have Slavin and Pesce out against the John Tavares line as much as possible against the Isles. Slavin had 24:55 of ice time (4:28 short-handed) and Pesce 22:32 against the Oilers.
Since Jan. 13, Tavares leads the NHL in goals (9) and points (16). He has 35 points (19 goals, 16 assists) in 27 career games against Carolina.
“You’ve got to respect him just like McDavid,” Slavin said. “The same thing goes: You’ve got to take away time and space and not give him the opportunity to make the plays he can make.”
Both teams played road games Friday and had travel. The Islanders (22-18-9) were beaten 5-4 by the Detroit Red Wings, who got the winning goal from Danny Dekeyser with 28 seconds left in regulation, ending the Isles’ seven-game point streak (6-0-1).
The Canes (23-20-7) lost five straight before the All-Star break but have won the last two. But both were at home and the Canes are 6-14-6 on the road this season.
“I think we’re definitely fresh coming out of the break and we’re playing to our sterngths,” Slavin said. “We’re playing a fast game and getting pucks behind their defenseman and getting on them. If we can keep that going we’ll be good.”
The Canes are 6-4-0 in the second half of back-to-backs this season.