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'Canes seek first win for new coach vs. Penguins

by Sergei J. Feldman

PENGUINS (15-7-4) at HURRICANES (8-15-4)

TV: ROOT (HD), FS-Carolinas (HD)

LAST 10: Pittsburgh (5-4-1); Carolina (2-7-1)

Season Series: This is the second of four meetings between the two Eastern Conference foes. Back on Nov. 12 the Hurricanes won 5-3 in Pittsburgh's first trip to the RBC Center. Jeff Skinner connected twice to lead the 'Canes.

Big Story: Carolina is still looking for its first win under new coach Kirk Muller, who took over for Paul Maurice two games ago. Pittsburgh skates into town coming off a win against rival Washington , who remain winless under their new coach, Dale Hunter.

Team Scope:

Penguins: Despite having success on the ice for the most part to close out November, the Penguins felt like they were missing that critical 60-minute effort. They found it against the Capitals in their first game of December in what was an impressive, stingy defensive effort that saw the Penguins come out on top, 2-1. Among the big takeaways from the win against the Caps was the fact that Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the other marquee players weren't the stars of the night -- the role players were. Craig Adams and Chris Kunitz took care of the scoring, while the defense held the always dangerous Caps to just 17 shots, a point of emphasis entering the game.

"We were pretty committed to making sure we didn't turn pucks over," Crosby said. "Our 'D' did a great job. We've got some guys who are new, and they did a great job of going in there and taking some hits to make plays. That's what you've got to do."

Hurricanes: The 'Canes had a great opportunity to gain some momentum with a stretch of five of six games at home. Instead, they've gone winless in that stretch and are looking at a four-game trip next week. The recent struggles led to the firing of coach Paul Maurice, but the team has yet to respond under Muller, who says progress will have to come one game at a time.

"No one said this is going to change overnight," he said. "We've got to do baby steps."

Who's Hot: Despite struggling for most of the season, Canes captain Eric Staal has points in three straight games. … Meanwhile, Malkin has three multi-point nights in his past five games to lead the Pens.

Injury Report: Jay Harrison is day-to-day with an upper-body injury for the Hurricanes. … The Penguins' Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek are day-to-day with nose and head injuries, respectively. Also for the Pens, Dustin Jeffrey (knee) and Ben Lovejoy (wrist) remain out.

Stat Pack: The Hurricanes own the League's worst goals-for/goals-against differential at minus-27 through 27 games this season.

Puck Drop: The Penguins skate into Carolina with an impressive recent record against the East, winning four of their last five after beginning the campaign just 5-6-1 against their own conference.

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