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Pens, 'Canes set to renew rivalry

by Compiled By

PENGUINS (5-1-0) at HURRICANES (2-3-0)

Season series: This will be the teams' first meeting since the Penguins swept the Hurricanes out of last spring's Eastern Conference Finals. Evgeni Malkin led the way with six goals in the four games, including a hat trick in Game 2. Eric Staal was limited to just one goal in the series.

Big Story: Winning won't change last spring, but the Hurricanes would love to get a measure of revenge, as well as see where they stand against the defending Stanley Cup champs.

Team Scope:

Penguins: Tyler Kennedy has four goals this season, and three of them have been game-winners. Everyone looks to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to score the big goals, but supporting players like Kennedy, Chris Kunitz, and Bill Guerin will determine if the Penguins can repeat as Cup champions.

"We can take some pride in the fact that, as a team, we're winning hockey games, and getting different contributions from different people on different nights," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

Hurricanes: One of the things that has hurt Carolina early is the repeat trips to the penalty box. The Canes lead the League with 24.9 minutes per game in penalties, a far cry from last season when they spent just 9.8 minutes per game in the box, fewest in the League.

"We burned big minutes with our high-end guys against that power play," said coach Paul Maurice. "We had to work way too hard to kill those minutes off and our goaltender had to make too many good saves. Then, your five-on-five play just doesn't have it in the tank to get it going."

Who's Hot: Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is 5-0 and has allowed just 12 goals this season. Hurricanes forward Jussi Jokinen has a point in three straight games and is a plus-2.

Injury Report: The Penguins are completely healthy. Hurricanes center Eric Staal skipped practice Tuesday after leaving the ice early in Monday's session, but Maurice expects him in the lineup Wednesday.

"He was a little tight in practice (Monday), so we figure another day and he'll be ready to go. We expect him to play."

Stat Pack: Eric Staal has missed one game in his career, during his rookie season, and has played 341 straight games. The Penguins' longest streak belongs to Malkin, who has played in 248 straight games.

Puck Drop: Fleury doesn't look all that different this season from the goaltender who was being pilloried for most of last year's postseason for being the impediment that would keep the Penguins from winning the Stanley Cup.

"Before, maybe I'd get a little nervous or think too much," Fleury told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "But now, I'm calm and I just play and know it will be fine."

His teammates certainly have noticed the added maturity.

"He's always been pretty confident, but there were times when if he let in a goal, it affected him afterward," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "Now, if he lets in a goal, he just moves on. It doesn't affect him. Psychologically, he erases that a little bit better."

-- Adam Kimelman,

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