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Gameday: Hurricanes at Penguins

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
PITTSBURGH – From spring-like weather in North Carolina to snow in Pittsburgh. Wait, what?


This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight’s Metropolitan Division showdown between the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins in one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, photos and more as puck drop draws near.

Because of the back-to-back, the Hurricanes will not hold a morning skate, but CarolinaHurricanes.com is in Pittsburgh to bring you all the latest. Until then, a preview of tonight’s game can be found below.

Last updated: 6:45 p.m.



CANES LINES: WARM-UPS
6:45 p.m.

Changes were indeed made to the Hurricanes lineup this afternoon, as Riley Nash will draw in for Chris Terry on the fourth-line wing. The team will also sport new defensive pairs.

Versteeg-E. Staal-Lindholm
Nordstrom-J. Staal-Nestrasil
Skinner-Rask-Di Giuseppe
Malone-McClement-Nash

Liles-Faulk
Slavin-Hainsey
Hanifin-Pesce

Ward
Lack

Puck drop in Pittsburgh is next!




LINEUP NOTES AND PETERS QUOTES
12:30 p.m.

The Hurricanes didn't hold a morning skate this morning and neither did the Penguins after both teams played last night. But head coach Bill Peters met with us downstairs at the hotel to discuss a few items, including the lineup for tonight's game. It didn't sound like anything lineup-wise would change (read: Riley Nash drawing back in), but that could always be altered this afternoon.

"We're going to talk about it here this afternoon. We met as coaches this morning to go over last night's game and work on the Pittsburgh pre-scout a little bit," Peters said. "We'll see if there's anything we can do to make us better."

Cam Ward will get the back-to-back start in net after he faced only 17 shots against Florida last night.

"I didn't think he had a lot of work last night, and I thought he was good," Peters said. "I thought he deserved the chance to play again. He didn't get any support offensively. He's practiced hard and he's got his game in good shape right now, so I thought we'd go right back to him. We're taking that position day-by-day."

More from Peters on tonight's opponent ...

On what he expects to see from the Penguins, who have lost three straight under a new head coach: "Very desperate. I've watched them two out of the three, and I'll watch last night's game a little bit this afternoon. They were very good against Washington in the first game. I thought very competitive again in Boston, and I don't know much about last night's game yet. They're close, and they'll be a desperate team here tonight. It should be two desperate teams looking to get back in the win column."

On if the Canes can take advantage of a potentially fragile Pittsburgh club: "The thing that happens a little bit with a coaching change is you can get caught sometimes in between systems until you have some practice time. If you have systems changes being implemented, it takes some time for those to become second nature. We can possibly exploit that, but they have good players who can play hard."

On if potentially facing Matt Murray, a goaltender making his first-career start, changes the Canes' strategy: "No. We're going to attack the net hard. He's a big guy at 6-4. Coming off a real good year in the American Hockey League last year. We're going to make it as hard on him or Zatkoff as humanly possible with attacking the net, getting seconds and thirds and making sure we get as much net-front traffic as we can."



CANES EYE BOUNCE-BACK EFFORT IN PITTSBURGH
6:00 a.m.

The Carolina Hurricanes had scored 23 goals in their previous five games before facing the Florida Panthers on Friday night. And then that all came to a screeching halt as they were shut out, 2-0.

HURRICANES at PENGUINS
Hurricanes at Penguins
CONSOL ENERGY CENTER | 7 p.m.
TV: FOX SPORTS CAROLINAS | RADIO: 99.9 FM
ARTICLES
RECAP: LUONGO, PANTHERS SHUT OUT CANES
INFOGRAPHIC: FLA 2, CAR 0
VIDEOS
POSTGAME QUOTES: DEC. 18 vs. FLA
FORSLUND FOCUS: JEFF SKINNER
GAMEDAY LINKS
12 DAYS OF HOCKEY
IN-GAME TWITTER
FIRST GOAL CONTEST
The offensive misstep was bound to happen at some point; scoring at a 4.6 goals per game clip isn’t sustainable in the National Hockey League. And it came against a team that doesn’t mind playing a stingy game.

“It was really tight with not a lot of room out there,” Eric Staal said. “There just weren’t a lot of chances either way, not a lot of shots and not a lot of looks.”

“There wasn’t any free ice to get going, wind up and skate,” head coach Bill Peters said. “It was just one of those games.”

Despite not finding the back of the net, there were positives to glean, namely the fact that the Hurricanes played a pretty sound defensive game, save for the one breakdown that cost them the game.

“Every play and every shift matters, and that’s basically what happened. We had the puck along the wall, and we didn’t quite get it out,” Peters said. “They activated Willie Mitchell down the backside and to the front of the net. It caused enough confusion that he got open.”

The challenge tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins will be to rediscover that offensive spark and couple that with a thorough defensive effort.

“We’ve played well here recently,” Peters said, referencing the fact that the Canes have earned points in five of their last seven games, winning four of those. “We’ve got to find a way to generate some offense and some speed and bounce back.”

Skating opposite are the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team under the leadership of new head coach Mike Sullivan, who replaced Mike Johnston a week ago. Since the coaching change, the Pens have dropped three straight games, including back-to-back losses to the Boston Bruins, 3-0 on Wednesday and 6-2 last night.
The Pens have won just two of their last 10 games, and at 15-13-3 with 33 points, they are on the outside looking in on the Eastern Conference wild card race.

Tonight marks the first of five meetings between these two Metropolitan Division opponents this season. The teams split last year’s season series down the middle, 2-2-0.

CANESPR NOTES: Eric Staal has 44 points (18g, 26a) in 42 career games against the Penguins. … Since the start of the 2005-06 season, the Hurricanes hold a 19-15-5 record against Pittsburgh. … Jordan Staal is one assist shy of 200 in his career, and Justin Faulk is one helper shy of 100 in his career.



Michael Smith
MICHAEL SMITH is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.

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