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Penguins vs. Hurricanes Game Preview

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

Overall:
5-5-1-11
Home: 2-4-0-4
Road: 3-1-1-7

WHEN: Oct 30, 2010 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: RBC Center
WATCH:
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Carolina Hurricanes
Overall:
5-4-0-10
Home: 1-1-0-2
Road:
4-3-0-8

  Pittsburgh Penguins at Carolina Hurricanes 
 
      
Jussi Jokinen
F  -  #36
  2 Goals
  4 Assists
  6 Points
• Led the Hurricanes with a career-high 30 goals last year in his first full season with Carolina.
 
• One of the most creative players in the game, he is one of the league’s top shootout specialists, scoring on 22 of his 42 career (52.4 percent) attempts.
 
• Has reached double digits in goals and posted 40 or more points in five of his first six seasons, including a career-high 65 points (30G-35A) last season.
 
Brandon Sutter
F  -  #16
  2 Goals
  1 Assist
  3 Points
• The former 2007 first-round pick is an alternate captain for the Hurricanes despite being just 21 years old.
 
• After scoring just once and posting six points as a rookie, broke out last season by notching 40 points (21G-19A) in 72 games.
 
• Is the younger son of Calgary Flames head coach Brent Sutter and was the ninth member of his family to be drafted into the NHL.
 
Joni Pitkanen
D  -  #25
  1 Goal 
  4 Assists
  5 Points
• Smooth-skating blueliner tied his career high last season with 46 points (6G-40A) in 71 games.
 
• Leads Carolina and ranks 12th overall in average ice time at 24:50 minutes per game. Last season he led the NHL with an average of 27:22 minutes per game.
 
• Capable defender ranks 13th in the NHL with 20 blocked shots through Friday.
The Carolina Hurricanes return home for a rare early-season contest at the RBC Center when they host the high-flying Penguins in the second leg of back-to-back tilts for both squads.

This is just the second home game of the season for the Hurricanes, who play nine of their first 13 games outside the Raleigh city limits, including the team’s season-opening two-game series against the Minnesota Wild in Helsinki, Finland Oct. 7-8.

Carolina, which lugs a 5-4 record into Saturday’s game following a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Friday, is hoping to get back into the postseason this year after missing the playoffs last season after a rash of injuries sidelined goaltender Cam Ward, forwards Erik Cole and Chad Larose and defenseman Tim Gleason for extended stretches.

Once again the Hurricanes are led by Ward and center Eric Staal, a pair of 26-year-old stars.

Ward, the 2006 Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP, has come back with a vengeance this season after playing just 47 contests last year. Through his first seven games, Ward has posted a 5-3 record, 2.72 goals-against average and a solid .925 save percentage. Ward always plays well against the Penguins, posting a 9-3-2 record and 2.39 goals-against average in 14 appearances.

Staal, the older brother of Penguins forward Jordan, is coming off of his fifth-straight 70-point campaign after posting a team-best 70 points last season on 29 goals and 41 assists. He leads the Hurricanes again this season with seven points (3G-4A) through nine games. Staal also historically plays well against the Penguins, notching 25 points (11G-14A) in 23 games.
  • If there is one thing you can count on when the Penguins and Hurricanes square off, it’s that the two teams will probably play a one-goal game. The two teams have had their past six games against one another decided by one goal, including all four games last season. During that stretch, four of the six games have gone to overtime or a shootout, with three of those instances occurring last season.
  • Including the 2009 postseason, when the Penguins won both road contests during a sweep of the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference finals, Pittsburgh has gone 4-0-2 during its past six trips into the RBC Center.
  • Saturday night’s matchup in Raleigh begins a stretch of four consecutive road contests for the Penguins. The team will return home immediately following the game for three days, then head right back out on a three-game trek through Dallas, Anaheim and Phoenix. The Penguins are in the midst of playing seven of eight games away from CONSOL Energy Center. Pittsburgh’s 3-1-1 road record is the fifth-best in the NHL as of Friday.
  • As of Friday, the Penguins’ three shorthanded goals were tied with the Calgary Flames and Philadelphia Flyers for most in the NHL. Last season, the Penguins did not record their third shorthanded goal until Dec. 15 when Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin both tallied to give the Penguins four. Matt Cooke is tied for second in the NHL with two shorthanded tallies, while his three shorthanded points rank first.
  • The Penguins will wear their blue third jerseys against the Hurricanes. This is the second of 10 instances Pittsburgh will don the power blues in 2009-10 and the first of two times where they will wear them on the road. Since first debuting the jerseys at the 2008 Winter Classic in Buffalo, Pittsburgh is 13-7-3 when they wear blue.

 

      
Fast Start: One of the keys for the Penguins, not only on Saturday against Carolina, but throughout this four-game road swing, will be getting off to better starts. Twice on their most-recent trips the Penguins dug themselves early deficits just minutes into the game. The team’s up-tempo system is easier to execute when the Penguins are playing from ahead.

Better Puck Management:
One area of their game where the Penguins focused during practice this week was making better decisions with puck management. If Pittsburgh gives up too many turnovers against Carolina, the Hurricanes have plenty of skilled and speedy forwards and a stable of puck-moving defenders who are good on the counter attack.
C Jordan Staal, foot (indefinitely)
D Zbynek Michalek, upper body (1 to 3 weeks)

F Jiri Tlusty, knee (day-to-day)
 
 
 
 
G
Crosby (6) Skinner/Staal (3)
A
Letang (8) Five tied (4)
PTS
Crosby (13) Skinner/Staal (7)
PIM
Engelland (26) Harrison (11)
+/-
Letang (+8) Cole (+8)
PP
Crosby (3) Jokinen (2)
SH
Cooke (2)
Staal/Dwyer (1)
W/L
Johnson (4-0-1) Ward (5-3-0)
GAA
Johnson (1.39) Ward (2.72)
SVP
Johnson (.951) Ward (.925)

Kris Letang - You can make a case that Kris Letang has arguably been the Penguins MVP through the first month of the season. Letang was strong again on Friday night against Philadelphia, notching his third multiple-point game in six contests with a goal and an assist. Letang is tied for the NHL lead among defensemen with 11 points (3G-8A).
 
Anton Babchuk - Defenseman Anton Babchuk returns to Carolina after spending last season playing in the KHL in Russia. A 16-goal scorer in 2008-09, the hard-shooting Babchuk has two goals through the first nine games this season. Over his last five games, the right-handed shooting blueliner has four points (1G-3A).
 
 
 
 


Aftermath: Flyers 3, Penguins 2      
Malkin, Staal Help Unveil Winter Classic Jersey        
 Penguins Crosby Ranked No. 37 On AskMen.com's '49 Most Influential Men of 2010'   
 Five Pittsburgh Players Projected As Top Prospects For 2011 NHL Entry Draft         


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Author: Jason Seidling

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