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Only one Staal present for Canes-Pens matchup

by Alan Robinson
PITTSBURGH -- Hockey players often say the best way to deal with an unsatisfactory performance is to move on quickly and simply forget it.
That's not quite as easy to do when a key player gets upstaged by his little brother.
When the Carolina Hurricanes last played in Pittsburgh -- they make their second and final visit there this season on Tuesday night -- captain Eric Staal's line was regularly matched against that of Penguins center Jordan Staal.
The Staal vs. Staal result? The Penguins outshot the Hurricanes 52-18 while winning 4-2 on Dec. 27, with Jordan Staal getting a goal and being chosen as the No. 1 star. Eric Staal's line was a minus-2.
So while Eric Staal obviously doesn't want to see his brother injured and out -- he's currently sidelined for a month to six weeks with a torn MCL in his left knee -- he said the Hurricanes need to capitalize on the absence of one of the NHL's best two-way forwards.
The Penguins also will be without their captain, Sidney Crosby, who remains out with a concussion, and defenseman Kris Letang, who is close to returning from a seven-week layoff with a concussion but will not play Tuesday.
"It's always a battle whenever you play him," Eric Staal said of his brother, who was having his best season statistically before he was hurt Jan. 6 against the Rangers. "Obviously he's a big part of their team, along with a couple of other players who are out, and we need to take advantage of that. Any time you play against him, it's competitive and a lot of fun and, unfortunately for Jordy, he's out a little bit."
The Penguins have slumped since that Dec. 27 game, going 7-10 and losing six in a row before rebounding with weekend wins against Florida and Tampa Bay. Carolina is 4-4-1 since then and is third from the bottom in the Eastern Conference standings.
"They're a little lower in the standings, but they're a team we've got to be aware of," Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. "It seems like every time we play them, it's a close game, overtime or shootout, so it's something we have to expect."
What Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller doesn't expect again is the Penguins getting off so many shots. By comparison, the Hurricanes gave up 24 shots while losing to Washington 2-1 on Sunday.
"It's the scoring chances, the effective ones, we've got to take away. They're a team that throws everything at the net," Muller said of the Penguins, who have averaged 37 shots since that Dec. 27 matchup. "It's not allowing them to get to the second and third rebounds."
Here are the probable lineups for the fourth and final game between the Eastern Conference teams this season. Pittsburgh won two of the first three.
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Jussi Jokinen - Jeff Skinner - Alexei Ponikarovsky
Andreas Nodl - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Brett Sutter - Tim Brent - Anthony Stewart
Bryan Allen - Tim Gleason
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Derek Joslin - Jamie McBain
Cam Ward will make his fifth consecutive start in goal, with Justin Peters as the backup. Ward is 11-5-2 with a 2.41 goals-against average against Pittsburgh during his career.
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Pascal Dupuis - Dustin Jeffrey - Tyler Kennedy
Steve Sullivan - Richard Park - Matt Cooke
Eric Tangradi - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Brooks Orpik - Matt Niskanen
Ben Lovejoy - Deryk Engelland
Marc-Andre Fleury, who hasn't had a full game off since a 3-2 win at Carolina on Dec. 3, will be in net. Backup Brent Johnson, who hasn't won since that Dec. 3 start, was pulled against Ottawa during each of his last two starts, on Dec. 16 and Jan. 10.
Penguins forward Arron Asham has an undisclosed illness and is not expected to play.
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