NEW YORK -- The NHL season is not even a quarter complete, which should mean it's far too early to wonder about playoff implications of a particular game.
But all norms go out the window in the Metropolitan Division, which the Carolina Hurricanes and the host New York Islanders will both have postseason seeding at least somewhere in their minds when they meet Thursday night at Barclays Center.
The game Thursday will end a mini-break for the Islanders, who haven't played since Saturday, when they snapped a two-game losing streak by beating the host St. Louis Blues 5-2. The Hurricanes won for the third time in four games Monday, when they scored four unanswered goals in the third period of a 5-1 victory over the visiting Dallas Stars.
The Islanders (9-6-2) and Hurricanes (7-5-4) are separated by only two points and embody the competitiveness of the Metropolitan Division, where the Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers are tied for last place but only six points behind the first-place New Jersey Devils.
Copyright 2017 by the Associated Press