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Hurricanes try to build win streak vs. Wild

Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward reached a milestone in to-back wins this afternoon as it visits the Minnesota Wild.

The Hurricanes halted a two-game slide on Thursday with a 2-0 victory over the NHL-leading St. Louis Blues. Ward made 40 saves to post his fourth shutout of the season as well as the 200th victory of his career.

Ward's 20th career shutout also matched a franchise record held by Arturs Irbe.

"It certainly means a lot to me because I'm very fortunate to be doing what I'm doing," said Ward. "I just want to keep moving forward and hopefully win another 200."

Chad LaRose and Jeff Skinner each had a goal for the Hurricanes, who are looking to win two in a row for the first time since Feb. 13-17. Carolina, though, is nine points out of a playoff spot with 11 games to play and will try to keep its faint playoff hopes alive tonight without Skinner.

The young forward was suspended for two games on Friday for kicking Blues forward Scott Nichol during Thursday's game. The 19-year-old leads the 'Canes with 20 goals and is second with 41 points.

Forward Jiri Tlusty missed a third straight game with an upper-body injury on Thursday, while defenseman Jaroslav Spacek sat out his second contest in a row due to a strained lower back. Both are questionable for tonight.

The Wild were once atop the NHL standings in December, but they come into play today 13 points out of a postseason spot in the Western Conference with 12 games left. They have dropped the first two contests of a five-game homestand, getting bested 4-3 by the Flames on Sunday prior to Tuesday's tough-luck 1-0 defeat to the Stars.

With goaltenders Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding both battling lower-body injuries, Matt Hackett got the call again in net and made 24 saves. His effort was good enough to win the game, but instead Minnesota lost for the seventh time in eight games.

"Tonight, the game was very reminiscent of games that we won earlier in the year when we were in first place," said Wild head coach Mike Yeo. "We didn't give up much tonight. It certainly would have been nice to capitalize on one of those power plays, but we just need to find a way to get one goal."

A possible return of captain Mikko Koivu could help. The forward has missed the past 13 games after aggravating an upper-body injury and could be back in action today. Forward Matt Cullen (knee) as well as defensemen Justin Falk (leg) and Steven Kampfer (facial) are also questionable for tonight.

Carolina has won its past three games versus Minnesota, including a two-game sweep of a series in Finland to open up the 2010-11 season. The Wild, though, have won the past three encounters played in Minnesota, where the clubs haven't met since Oct. 24, 2009.