GAME DAY REPORT
Celina Pompeani and Michelle Crechiolo discuss tonight's game against the Carolina Hurricanes. --Michelle Crechiolo
PENSTV INTERVIEWSNick Spaling Maxim Lapierre --Michelle Crechiolo
QUOTE 'EM--Michelle Crechiolo
Asst coach Agnew shares a laugh with Lovejoy and Winnik
Lapierre and Tocchet compare stick curves
Deadline boys Cole and Lovejoy
Greiss sets for a shot
Spaling was one of the Pens' optional skaters--Sam Kasan
PENS TO PLAY SHORTHANDED TONIGHT
After learning yesterday that Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist would not be traveling to Carolina with the team, head coach Mike Johnston said after Thursday’s optional skate that Christian Ehrhoff has an upper-body injury and will be out for at least several days.
“We’ll continually see every 24 hours how he reacts and what our doctors have to say when we get back to Pittsburgh,” Johnston said. “I’m not going to put a timeline on it until our guys give me a timeline. They haven’t given me a timeline yet. They just said we’ll check back with him in 24 hours and just see how it’s progressing.”
That means the Pens will have to play one short tonight against the Hurricanes, as they cannot call anyone up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton because of the salary cap. They will dress 11 forwards and six defensemen.
It’s not an unfamiliar situation for the Pens, as they ended up playing the majority of Tuesday’s game with 11 forwards and six defensemen when Ehrhoff left just 5:07 in.
“Any time you’re playing with 11 forwards, you’ll mix your lines up a little bit just because of the situation,” Johnston said. “I think on the road, it’s a little bit different as well. It gives a look that they may not be ready for as far as who’s playing with who and different shifts. And you can juggle. I thought last time, our top forwards managed their minutes well even though they were pushed into higher minutes. We have to use all of our bench tonight in a game where you’re playing one down and I think for most of our forwards, they’re pretty excited to get a little more ice time.”--Michelle Crechiolo
MORNING SKATE INFO
The Pens are holding an optional game day skate this morning at PNC Arena. Participating are Lovejoy, Spaling, Bennett, Winnik, Adams, Cole, Lapierre, Pouliot and both goalies. We know Malkin and Hornqvist didn't make the trip, so we will ask head coach Mike Johnston for an update on Ehrhoff after practice.--Michelle Crechiolo
SCOUTING THE CANES
Carolina head coach Bill Peters confirmed yesterday that Cam Ward would get the start in goal tonight vs. Pittsburgh. I talk about him, the Canes' young studs and Jordan Staal finally making his season debut against his former team in the Scouting Report. --Michelle Crechiolo
For you visual learners (or anyone who just appreciates awesome graphics), here are the infograph notes courtesy of the Pens PR department...--Michelle Crechiolo
START THE DAY
Good morning from warm but rainy Raleigh, Pens fans! The team is here to play the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at PNC Arena, with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m. The Canes may be all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but that doesn't mean they won't be a challenge. They've played the Pens tough this year, winning the first game 4-2 and losing the next two by just one goal. And as defenseman Paul Martin said, "They’ve been playing a lot better as of late. They’re a team that’s obviously out of the playoffs, so they’re dangerous. They’ve got nothing to lose. A lot of guys fighting for spots for next year and young guys trying to make a statement."
Here's a few game notes to get you ready for the matchup...
- Saturday’s win in Arizona allowed the Penguins to reach the 40-win mark for the eighth consecutive full season (excludes the shortened campaign).
- The Penguins need nine points in their final nine games to reach 100 for the fifth consecutive full season and the seventh time in the last eight years (excludes shortened campaign).
- A win tonight would allow the Penguins to win the season series against the Hurricanes for the fifth-straight year.
- Pittsburgh has won four straight games against the Hurricanes at PNC Arena.
- Overall, the Penguins have won seven of their last nine meetings with the Hurricanes.
- Chris Kunitz enjoys playing the Hurricanes. He has a four-game point streak (3G-2A-5PTS) against Carolina. His two goals versus the Hurricanes this year are the most among Penguins players.
- Prior to being held scoreless in his last two meetings against the Hurricanes, Sidney Crosby had rattled off a 12-game point streak against them (3G-16A-19PTS). Those totals included a pair of assists in the Oct. 28 meeting between the teams.
- Brandon Sutter’s goal in the Dec. 31 meeting between the teams was his first in 10 games against his former club.
- Marc-Andre Fleury is 6-2 in his last eight starts against the Hurricanes.
Here at PNC Arena, Fleury has a three-game winning streak.
- Tonight the Penguins will wear their dark jerseys.
Stick tap: Pens PR--Michelle Crechiolo