GAME: Carolina Hurricanes (25-30-13-5) at Pittsburgh Penguins (18-45-7-4).
TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
The Pittsburgh Penguins knew they couldn't expect their improbable six-gameunbeaten streak to last much longer. A matchup with the defending Stanley Cupchampions was a logical place for it to end.
Now, the Penguins look to get right back into the win column as they take onthe Carolina Hurricanes in the teams' final meeting of the season.
Pittsburgh had little chance to extend its streak on the road against theNew Jersey Devils on Wednesday night, and was routed 6-1. The Devils' line ofJeff Friesen, Sergei Brylin and center Viktor Kozlov combined for three goalsand 11 points. Friesen had two goals and two assists, and Kozlov added a goaland three assists.
The Pens had to settle for spoiling Scott Clemmensen's shutout bid on MattHussey's goal with 6:52 remaining as their 5-0-1 run came to an end. The goalwas Hussey's second in two games since being recalled from the minors onTuesday.
"It was nice to have put a little run together," Penguins coach EddieOlczyk said. "We were finding a way to win some games."
Olcyzk's team still has the worst record in the NHL despite the streak, buthas a chance to get back to winning games against a lesser opponent. Carolina,though, has won three of four and gained points in four straight games(3-0-0-1).
Erik Cole broke a tie with 4:22 left in the third period Wednesday night togive the Hurricanes a 3-2 road victory over Chicago.
Cole, who also had an assist, scored the winner on his third shot of theperiod, and the Hurricanes finished with a season-high 49 shots.
Although they've played better of late, Carolina has little chance of makingthe postseason. The Hurricanes trail the eighth-place New York Islanders by 10points with nine games remaining.
STANDINGS (through March 17): Hurricanes - 68 points, 4th place, 27 PB,Southeast Division. Penguins - 47 points, 5th place, 47 PB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Hurricanes - Cole, 17 goals and 39 points; Justin Williams, 26assists; Jesse Boulerice, 118 PIM. Penguins - Ryan Malone, 21 goals; DickTarnstrom, 33 assists and 46 points; Brooks Orpik, 117 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 17): Hurricanes - Power play: 11.0 percent (38for 347), 30th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.0 percent (265 for 323), 23rd.Penguins - Power play: 16.8 percent (55 for 327), 10th. Penalty killing: 76.1percent (255 for 335), 30th.
GOALTENDERS: Hurricanes - Kevin Weekes (22-26-10, 6 SO, 2.21 GAA); ArtursIrbe (3-1-1, 1.97). Penguins - Jean-Sebastien Aubin (4-8-0, 1, 3.06); MartinBrochu (0-0-0, 1.82).
SEASON SERIES: Hurricanes, 2-0-1.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 18; Hurricanes 2-1, OT. At Raleigh, N.C., Rod Brind'Amourand Jeff O'Neill broke long scoring droughts as the Hurricanes scored two lategoals to give Peter Laviolette a win in his Carolina coaching debut.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 13-15-5-3 on the road; Penguins - 10-22-5-0at home. Associated Press