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Gameday: Hurricanes at Penguins

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

PITTSBURGH - Back at it.

This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight's Metropolitan Division match-up 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.

In a back-to-back situation with travel and an earlier-than-usual puck drop, the Hurricanes will not hold a morning skate, but still check back here for all of your gameday-centric content.

Last updated: 4:40 p.m.

4:40 p.m.

The Hurricanes will juggle their forward lines heading into the second half of this back-to-back set. Additionally, Eddie Lack is back in goal less than a week after a scary collision resulted in him being stretchered off the ice.

Nordstrom-Rask-Di Giuseppe



The puck drops in Pittsburgh in 30 minutes!

3:10 p.m.

Mike Maniscalco details this evening's Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three Tools to Victory.

1. Score the First Goal

That hasn't mattered much for the Hurricanes this year, as 18 of the team's 35 wins have come when their opponent scored first. But coming off last night, getting the first goal and making the Penguins chase the game is important.

2. Tighten Up

The phrase "take away time and space" is often used in hockey. That has to be done against Pittsburgh's attack. Gap up against their forwards and make it tough for them to get to the spots on the ice in the offensive zone.

3. About Last Night

The Canes' 13-game point streak was snapped last night. Forget about it. The best thing that could happen is the team gets back on the ice quickly to try to start another streak. The Penguins have been struggling. Don't let the loss to the Stars beat you twice. Be focused and start on time.

6:00 a.m.

On the heels of a discouraging 3-0 loss to the Dallas Stars on Saturday night that ended their franchise-best 13-game point streak, the Carolina Hurricanes have an opportunity to rebound in Pittsburgh against a divisional opponent.

The opportunity, too, to build a streak anew, something that's assuredly needed to keep the Hurricanes' now slim playoff hopes breathing with just five games remaining in the regular season.

On Saturday, the Stars stopped the Hurricanes' franchise-best point in its tracks. They held a 1-0 advantage until late in the third period, when they added two-empty net goals. After scoring an NHL-high 54 goals in the month of March, the Hurricanes came up empty as April began.

"It wasn't easy to take. We've played some great hockey and given ourselves a chance," Jordan Staal said. "Tonight was much the same as the other night against Columbus. We thought we could stick with it and find a way. We had a few chances, but tonight it didn't go in."

"I thought everything was a grind," head coach Bill Peters said. "Everything seemed hard and a split second late or in the feet offensively. I don't think we executed as well as we have recently."

Once Dallas got their first - a quick shot labeled for the top shelf off the stick of Jason Spezza, very similar to Jack Johnson's opening goal on Thursday night - that was all they needed. The Hurricanes, couldn't generate much spark offensively.

"There wasn't a whole lot going on. The puck was bouncing in between the teams. We had to take control if we wanted to win, and we didn't," Staal said. "They got their one goal and sat back really hard. They did a good job of clogging up the neutral zone. You've got to score if you want to win, so we had to get at least one. We didn't find a way to get it."

"It was tough for us to get into the flow of the game and generate back-to-back-to-back shifts that were good for us," Jeff Skinner said. "We had some real good chances but then just couldn't seem to follow it up with enough on the next shift."

The Hurricanes will get right back at it less than 24 hours later in Pittsburgh against a Penguins team that was idle on Saturday night. Two weeks ago after facing Nashville at home, the Canes flew to Philadelphia to battle a rested Flyers club the next night. That didn't go so well early, in an eventual 4-3 overtime loss to the Flyers.

"I'm concerned more about the back-to-back than anything," Peters said, referencing the game in Philadelphia. "We had a terrible time getting going. We had a real hard time getting going against a team that was fresh. That's the biggest challenge right now with energy levels and everything else."

The Penguins are jostling with the Columbus Blue Jackets for second place and first-round home ice in the Metropolitan Division. The Pens are 4-3-3 in their last 10 games and 29-6-4 at home.

CANESPR NOTES: The Hurricanes are 7-4-4 in the front halves of back-to-backs and 7-5-2 in the back halves thus far this season. After tonight's game, just one back-to-back set remains on the schedule. … Lee Stempniak, a member of the Penguins in 2014, remains a goal shy of 200 in his NHL career.




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