(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes will try to get their playoff quest back on track when they welcome the New York Islanders for tonight's battle at RBC Center.
Despite losing five of their last six games, the Hurricanes are still ninth in the East and just two points behind Buffalo for the conference's final playoff spot.
Carolina ended a four-game losing streak with a big win over Buffalo on Tuesday, but on the following night, the Hurricanes wasted an opportunity to draw even with the idle Sabres.
The Hurricanes' 3-1 setback on Wednesday was against another playoff-hopeful, the Toronto Maple Leafs, who received 36 saves from James Reimer in the win at the RBC Center. The Leafs are two points behind Carolina in the East standings.
Chad LaRose scored the lone goal and Cam Ward was tagged for three goals on 19 shots for the Hurricanes, who have scored a total of nine goals over their last six games.
"We're offensively frustrated out there right now," said Carolina head coach Paul Maurice. "We have a bunch of chances at the net, but the pucks are sitting around that crease and we just can't get them in."
Wednesday's loss marked the start of a three-game homestand for Carolina, which has lost three in a row as the host and is 18-12-4 in Raleigh this season.
The Hurricanes are 2-0 against the Islanders this season and have scored a total of 11 goals in those contests. Carolina has won four straight and eight of 10 overall in the series. New York has lost two in a row, four of five and eight of its last 11 tests in Raleigh.
The Islanders have been more or less been reduced to a spoiler role, as they currently are 11 points out of a playoff spot with just 11 games to play. New York is seeded 14th in the East.
New York has lost its last two contests and last played on Tuesday, when the rival Rangers posted a 6-3 victory over the visiting Isles. Marian Gaborik scored twice to lift the Blueshirts to victory at Madison Square Garden.
Matt Moulson and John Tavares both had three points for the Islanders, who fell to 0-1-1 on a five-game road trip and have a poor 11-18-6 record as the guest this season.
Al Montoya started in net for the Islanders, but was pulled after giving up five goals on 36 shots in the first two periods. Nathan Lawson yielded a goal on 11 shots in the third.
"They just kept rolling," said Montoya.
Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro could be back between the pipes tonight for the first time since early February. DiPietro was activated from injured reserve on Wednesday after missing roughly five weeks with facial fractures suffered in a fight with Pittsburgh netminder Brent Johnson.
The 29-year-old DiPietro is 7-10-4 in 21 games this season with a 3.36 goals- against average and .890 save percentage. To make room on the roster for DiPietro, the Islanders sent Lawson to Bridgeport of the American Hockey League.
New York Islanders
@ Carolina Hurricanes
Friday, Mar 18, 2011, 7:00 PM EDT
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