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Hurricanes take on Islanders for first time this season

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The way things are going for the Carolina Hurricanes, they've been on the right side of some sizeable swings in momentum.

Part of that is because of Jeff Skinner's recent play.

He has been productive in racking up a team-high 17 goals. Two of those came Friday night and he'll look for more Saturday night against the New York Islanders.

"Good way to get your 300th (career point) and then follow it right up," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "I thought he was good. He was dangerous, got us on the power play in the first period. Taking it hard to the net, also."

The Hurricanes are hot at home, while the Islanders are amid a stretch of road games. But New York might have found some life Friday night by defeating Florida.

The Islanders and Hurricanes meet for the first time this season.

New York had three total goals in its past three games until putting up five at Florida.

"Continue to find a way to create some offense," coach Jack Capuano said. "And when we get the opportunity, bury it."

That's about how the Hurricanes have gone about it recently. They've scored five goals in each of their last two games after a four-goal output in the game before that.

This offense might be the main reason they've emerged as a contender in the playoff mix. Cam Ward's steady goaltending has been a staple for the team the past couple of months.

Now by moving up in the standings, a different vibe is starting to develop.

"We believe we're part of it and that's important," Peters said of being in playing contention. "They get energized by the fact that they can play with anybody."

Peters said the Hurricanes, who are largely comprised of a young roster, naturally will need a break when the All-Star weekend comes later in the month.

"We've got to stay on it and stay with it," rookie left winger Brock McGinn said. "We're trying to go into the All-Star break with a good push."

In barely more than a two-week period, the Hurricanes have defeated the Boston Bruins twice, the Chicago Blackhawks and the team with the NHL's best record, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"We're very confident right now," McGinn said. "I think there's a really good chemistry right now in this dressing room and we're feeling comfortable and we just have to keep going."

The Hurricanes have been particularly impressive on home ice for the past two months, winning 13 of their last 15 games at PNC Arena.

The game against Buffalo on Friday night and Saturday night's game against the Islanders are outings against teams below them in the Eastern Conference standings.

Yet there's no reason to become overconfident.

"We're mature enough now," Peters said. "There are areas we can clean up. There's some things we can do better to make it easier."

The Islanders had failed to score more than one goal in regulation in three consecutive games until posting Friday night's 5-2 victory at Florida.

Capuano said the Islanders must stay the course.

"If I thought it was something with the system or the structure, we would change it," Capuano said.

All five of the Islanders-Hurricanes games come in the latter half of the schedule.

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