(SportsNetwork.com) - The sliding Carolina Hurricanes will shoot for their first win since the NHL returned from its Olympic break when they visit the San Jose Sharks for Tuesday's battle at SAP Center.
The Hurricanes are 0-5-0 on a skid that began before the league went on hiatus for the 2014 Winter Games. Four of those setbacks, however, have come since the NHL returned to action last week.
The club has matched its longest losing streak of the season with five consecutive setbacks. However, the previous five-game slide from Dec. 20-29 did feature a pair of overtime losses.
Carolina is also 0-4 on a five-game road trip that ends tonight at the Shark Tank. The Hurricanes have fared well against San Jose in recent years, winning three straight and five of the last six encounters overall while taking the last two meetings in Northern California.
The Hurricanes have fallen seven points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The recent slide could be the difference between making the postseason or watching from home for a fifth straight spring.
Carolina goaltender Cam Ward has been a trouble spot for Carolina this season and he lost for the fifth time in six decisions in Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Ward allowed all five goals on 34 shots, as the veteran netminder surrendered three or more goals for the 10th straight outing.
"I'm sure there's a couple that he'd say he'd like to have back," Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller said of Ward. "(He needs) to get that confidence level up again.
All told, Ward is 6-9-5 with a 3.23 goals against average and .891 save percentage this season. Backup netminder Anton Khudobin, who is 13-8-0 with a 2.17 GAA and .927 save percentage in 2013-14, expects to get the start on Tuesday.
Andrej Sekera, Patrick Dwyer and Alexander Semin each lit the lamp for the Hurricanes in Sunday's loss, which dropped the club to 11-14-4 as the road team this season.
Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk left Sunday's game with an upper-body injury and he is questionable for tonight.
Unlike Carolina, the Sharks are sitting comfortably in their playoff race. San Jose is currently second in the Pacific Division and eight points in front of Los Angeles.
The Sharks won for the fourth time in five games when they notched a 4-2 win at New Jersey on Sunday. The victory gave San Jose a 2-1-0 record on a three- game road trip before it kicks off a string of four straight in Silicon Valley with this evening's contest.
Patrick Marleau had a goal and an assist to help the Sharks down the Devils at Prudential Center. Raffi Torres, Logan Couture and Matt Nieto also scored for the Sharks, while Alex Stalock turned away 21 shots in the win.
The score was knotted at 2-2 after 40 minutes, but Nieto scored 6:20 into the third to put San Jose up for good. Marleau added his 25th tally of the season with 2:25 left to seal the victory.
"We knew if we won the third period, we were going to win the game," Nieto said. "It's a great way to end the road trip."
San Jose boasts a stellar 22-4-3 record on home ice this season and has won three of its last four at SAP Center.