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Penguins vs. Hurricanes Game Preview

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

Home: 4-5-1-9
Road: 6-3-1-13

WHEN: Nov. 19, 2010 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
TSN, FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Carolina Hurricanes
Home: 5-3-0-10

  Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Carolina Hurricanes 
Tuomo Ruutu
F  -  #15
  4 Goals
  6 Assists
  10 Points
•Had a career year offensively for the Hurricanes in 2008-09 with 26 goals, 28 points and 53 points in 79 games.
• Leads the Hurricanes with 66 hits, a total that is 29 more than second-place Chad LaRose (37).
• The Finnish forward began his career with the Chicago Blackhawks and is the younger brother of former Penguins forward Jarkko.
Sergei Samsonov
F  -  #14
  4 Goals
  6 Assists
  10 Points
• Has found himself a home in Carolina, registering double-digit goals in each of his three seasons with the team.
• Was a key member of Carolina’s 2009 Eastern Conference finalist team, totaling five goals and eight points in 17 games.
• Originally drafted by the Boston Bruins with the 8th overall selection of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. He was Boston’s second first-round pick that year following the No. 1-overall selection of Joe Thornton.
Ian White
D  -  #7
  2 goals
  4 assists
  6 points
• Acquired from the Calgary Flames on Wednesday with forward Brett Sutter in exchange for former Penguin Tom Kostopoulos and blueliner Anton Babchuk.
• Will make his Carolina debut against the Penguins on Friday night, where he is expected to be paired with Joni Pitkanen.
• Has posted double-digit goal totals in each of the past two seasons with 13 last season and 10 in 2008-09.
The Penguins conclude a brief three-game homestand on Friday night by playing host to the Carolina Hurricanes at CONSOL Energy Center.  This is the second of four meetings between the teams, with Pittsburgh capturing the first game, 3-0, on Oct. 30 in Raleigh behind a 33-save shutout from Brent Johnson.

Carolina is coming off of its most dominant performance of the season, a 7-1 drubbing of the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night that was led by a pair of goals each by Eric Staal and Chad Larose. That game followed what might have been the low point of the Hurricanes’ season, a couple of humbling defeats to Philadelphia (8-1, Nov. 11) and Montreal (7-2, Nov. 13).

The Hurricanes remain in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff field, holding the conference’s No. 9 spot as of Thursday with 18 points through the first 18 games.

Just like they always do, the Hurricanes feature a high-flying, up-tempo attack led by a group of speedy forwards who can put pucks in the back of the net and a mobile group of puck-moving defensemen.

Staal is once again carrying the offensive burden for Carolina along with Jussi Jokinen, who last season scored a career-high 30 goals for the ‘Canes. Staal, the older brother of injured Penguins forward Jordan, paces Carolina in goals (9), assists (13) and points (22). Jokinen sits third in points with 13, while his 11 assists rank second.

The surprise of the early season, and the man who sits between Staal and Jokinen on the team scoring chart, is 18-year-old rookie center Jeff Skinner, the team’s first-round draft choice (7th overall) this past June. Skinner ranks second on the team in both goals (6) and points (15).

Among fellow rookies, Skinner ranks first in points, assists (9), power-play points (5) and power-play assists (4), while ranking second in goals.

In goal, the Hurricanes have one of the best in the business in former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Cam Ward. The owner of a 9-4-2 career record against the Penguins, Ward is one of the best in the business at taking up a lot of the net and denying first-chance goals. Ward has played excellent again this season despite facing the third-most shots (509) in the league as of Thursday.
  • Led by Kris Letang, who ranks second among all NHL blueliners with 17 points (3G-14A), the Penguins feature the highest-scoring group of defensemen in the NHL with 49 points generated by the D-men through the season’s first 20 games. The 10 goals Pittsburgh has received from its defensemen are tied for third-most.
  • Pittsburgh’s penalty kill continues to lead the way through this recent hot stretch for the team. The Penguins’ PK unit has gone seven of its past nine games without surrendering an opposition power-play goal. Pittsburgh boasts the league’s No. 3-rated penalty killing unit with an 88.2 percent success rate.
  • Forward Evgeni Malkin is on the verge of a career milestone. Malkin enters Friday’s game with 398 career points (150G-248A), leaving him two points shy of becoming the 12th player in team history to record 400. 
  • A programming note for fans: HBO Sports® will present “Preview to 24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road To The NHL Winter Classic,” a 12-minute preview of the upcoming NHL reality series featuring  the spirited rivalry between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals, which is set to air exclusively on HBO.  Debuting Saturday, Nov. 20 at 12:15 a.m. ET/9:15 p.m. PT (or immediately following the conclusion of the live World Championship Boxing telecast from Atlantic City), the special will serve as a primer to the acclaimed series for new viewers as well an introduction of the players and coaches from the Penguins and Capitals, who will appear on the all-access series. 


Wingers Keep Producing: The Penguins are enjoying this 4-1-1 run because everybody has stepped up to help captain Sidney Crosby in the goal-scoring department. Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke and Maxime Talbot are among the role players who have stepped up their offensive production the past couple of weeks.

Establish the Forecheck:
Carolina’s group of fast forwards is highly capable of doing damage when they get the puck on their sticks, especially in transition following turnovers. What’s the best way to defend this? Simple, establish a strong forecheck and keep them hemmed in their own zone playing D the entire night.
C Jordan Staal, broken right hand (up to 4 weeks)
Crosby (13) Staal (9)
Crosby (16) Staal (13)
Crosby (29) Staal (22)
Engelland (40) Harrison (22)
Letang/Goligoski (+8) Sutter (+5)
Crosby (5) Staal (3)
Cooke (2)
Staal/Dwyer (1)
Johnson (6-2-1) Ward (9-7-0)
Johnson (2.11) Ward (2.98)
Johnson (.927) Ward (.912)

Maxime Talbot - Right now, Penguins forward and fan-favorite Maxime Talbot is definitely worthy of ‘superstar treatment’. Talbot has recorded multiple-point games in two of his past four games, including a goal and an assist against Vancouver on Wednesday. Talbot has six points (3G-3A) over his past nine games.
Chad LaRose - The Hurricane’s second-leading goal scorer (tied) with six, LaRose has picked up goals in three of his past four games (4 total). LaRose led the way to victory on Wednesday night, tallying two goals and two assists in Carolina’s 7-1 defeat of Ottawa.

Russian Teen Meets Idol Malkin      
Michalek Improving in Penguins' System            
Penguins Report: Practice 11/18/10              
"Preview to 24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic" Premieres Saturday, November 20 on HBO        
Price, Crosby and Semin Named NHL 'Three Stars' of the Week             

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