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Pens-Hurricanes Preview

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

PENGUINS (7-4-0) vs. HURRICANES (3-3-4)
  WHEN: October 28, 2013 - 7:00 p.m.  |  WHERE: PNC Arena
WATCH: ROOT SPORTS  |  LISTEN: Penguins Radio 24/7, 105.9 FM

Season series: Last 10: Pittsburgh 6-4-0; Carolina 4-4-2

Season series:
This is the second of four season meetings between the new Metropolitan Division foes. In the first, former Hurricanes forward Jussi Jokinen scored a hat trick as the Penguins prevailed 5-2 in Pittsburgh.

Big story:
The top two teams in the Metropolitan Division will face off Monday, with both attempting to end losing skids.

Pittsburgh averaged 38.0 shots-per-game over the past three games, but the Penguins have only four total goals and an 0-3-0 record to show for it. The Penguins will look to get back on track against a Hurricanes team leveled by injuries, including to starting goaltender Cam Ward and backup Anton Khudobin. Justin Peters will likely start for the Hurricanes.

Team scope:

The normally potent Penguins experienced an offensive drought during their current skid. Pittsburgh was outscored 9-4 in losses to the Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs, and the power play went 1-for-15 over that stretch. This all came despite the team bolstering its shots-per-game mark to 33.0 for the season, good for fifth-best League-wide.

The Penguins have scored early and often in recent meetings with Carolina, with 18 goals over a 3-0-0 stretch dating back to April 9.

"We definitely look forward to the opportunity (for a turnaround) again," Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma said. "The three games, while a little bit different, have a similar theme to them, we carry the play, outshoot."

Carolina is back home after a four-game road swing in which it went 2-2-0. The Hurricanes lost the final two contests, to the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche, and conceded two goals in the first period of each.

“As a group, consistently, we just have to be smarter with some of the decisions we’re making, especially in the first period,” Hurricanes captain Eric Staal said. “It’s just about being smarter in our game and not beating ourselves in certain positions on the ice. If we do that, we’ll be fine.”

The Hurricanes are also suffering from an injury bug. In addition to Khudobin and Ward, forwards Jeff Skinner and Radek Dvorak are questionable for Monday’s contest. Skinner underwent an MRI on Sunday and did not skate with the team.

Who’s hot:
NHL points leader Sidney Crosby failed to score for just the second time this season against the Maple Leafs, but the Penguins captain has two goals and 11 assists over an eight-game point streak against the Hurricanes. … Alexander Semin has a goal and three assists over a three-game point streak.

Injury report:
Pittsburgh defenseman Rob Scuderi suffered a lower-body injury against the Maple Leafs and is being re-evaluated. Forwards James Neal (upper body) and Beau Bennett (lower body), as well as goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clot) are on injured reserve. … In addition to the aforementioned injuries, Carolina will also be without defenseman Brett Bellemore (lower body), who skated on Sunday but remains on injured reserve. Right wing Patrick Dwyer (upper body) is day-to-day.

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