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Penguins start five-game trip against 'Canes

by John Kreiser

PENGUINS (40-22-4) at HURRICANES (27-31-8)

Last 10 -- Pittsburgh 6-1-3; Carolina 8-1-1

Season series -- The teams are meeting for the third time this season, but the first in more than three months. They haven't seen each other since the Hurricanes came to Mellon Arena and left with a 3-2 win on Dec. 7. The Penguins rallied from a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 shootout win at the RBC Center on Oct. 14.

Big story -- Two of the NHL's hottest teams meet as the Penguins kick off a five-game road trip. Pittsburgh is a perfect 4-0-0 since play resumed after the Olympic break, including a 2-1 victory over Boston on Sunday, and has grabbed first place in the Atlantic Division. The 'Canes are coming off a 4-3 OT loss in Washington on Wednesday, but have points in nine of their last 10 games and still have an outside shot at the playoffs because they're one of the few hot teams in the East.

Team Scope:

Penguins -- A year ago, the Penguins found themselves under new coach Dan Bylsma by sweeping a five-game trip. They'd like to set themselves up for a long playoff run by doing the same thing this year.

"It was a big definition trip. Where's the season going to go? What would we do with 10 points on the line?" Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "And we won five straight."

The Penguins head out on the road with a four-game winning streak, though defenseman Kris Letang said, "We're playing well, but we can do better."

Hurricanes -- The 'Canes have little room for error if they hope to make the playoffs after a dreadful start, so rallying from a 2-0 deficit to get a point in Wednesday's 4-3 overtime loss at Washington was better than nothing. With 62 points, they're still eight behind eighth-place Boston, which has played one fewer game.

"We're just judging ourselves by the fight," coach Paul Maurice said after the loss to the Caps. "I thought we got better as the game went on, and we're just trying to get as many points as we can."

Who's hot -- Sidney Crosby has 10 points during a six-game points streak for the Penguins. He's tied for the NHL lead with 44 goals and has 16 points in 10 games since the start of February. … Hurricanes goaltender Manny Legace is 5-0-1 in his last six games and has allowed just 12 goals during that span. Forward Jussi Jokinen has goals in his last three games.

Injury report -- Pittsburgh will be without enforcer Eric Godard (groin) for another week or two. Forward Bill Guerin may have to sit again due to back spasms. … Carolina goalie Cam Ward has missed 10 straight games with an upper-body injury.

Stat pack -- Since the Hartford Whalers relocated to Carolina in 1995, the Penguins and Hurricanes have met 59 times in the regular season -- and they're all even. Pittsburgh Carolina each have won 26 games, while the other seven finished in ties. Both teams have accumulated 62 points by earning three extra points with OT or shootout losses.

Puck drop -- Crosby's missing Olympic equipment has been found. One glove was found by Boston's Patrice Bergeron after it was accidentally packed with Bruins equipment. The other glove and his stick were found in Toronto in a shipment headed for the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame, and Hockey Canada said the gear was misplaced, not stolen. Crosby had said he wanted to get the equipment back; it's now up to him to where it ends up.

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