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Pens-Hurricanes Preview

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

PENGUINS (27-11-1) at HURRICANES (14-15-8
  WHEN: December 27, 2013 - 7:00 p.m.  |  WHERE: PNC Arena
WATCH: ROOT SPORTS  |  LISTEN: Penguins Radio 24/7, 105.9 FM

Last 10: Pittsburgh 8-2-0; Carolina 4-3-3

Season series: The Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes will play the third of four games. The Penguins have won the first two, the most recent a 3-1 victory at PNC Arena on Oct. 28.

Big story: Although the Penguins' seven-game winning streak ended Monday with a 5-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators, they entered the three-day Christmas break winners of 12 of their past 14 games. Pittsburgh owns the Eastern Conference's best record despite having no fewer than five regulars out of the lineup in each game over the past five weeks.

"You might feel sorry for yourself if it happened in the playoffs," Penguins forward Craig Adams said. "It's a lot to deal with, but there's no sense feeling sorry for yourself. We'll be fine."

The Hurricanes were 0-2-1 in their three games before the break and have dropped six of their past seven.

Team Scope:

The shutout loss in Ottawa was the Penguins' second this season and first on the road in 57 games (Toronto Maple Leafs, Feb. 1, 2012). Pittsburgh captain and NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby's point streak ended at 10 games (seven goals, 10 assists). It was the eighth game he was held without a point. The Senators also shut down the League's top power play; the Penguins were 0-for-7 in the game.

"Our power play hurt us," Crosby said. "We had some real good chances in the second, a 2-0 game. It didn't feel like they were getting much in the second period. We didn't capitalize on the power plays that we got, and then [Erik] Karlsson's goal in the third took a lot of momentum away from us."

Hurricanes: Carolina was four minutes away from earning two points in a key Metropolitan Division game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday before Ryan Johansen and Jack Skille scored 1:28 apart late in the third period to send the Hurricanes to a 4-3 loss.

"That's a real stunner right there," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "You're four or five minutes away from walking away and picking up two huge points. We made two mistakes in the third. We're sitting there with a few minutes left in the game, and they capitalize on two A chances."

Who's hot: Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had a five-game winning streak snapped Monday, but his 21 wins lead the NHL … Hurricanes center Eric Staal has 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in his past 19 games.

Injury report: Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis (lower body) left Monday's game and his status for Friday is uncertain. Forward Tanner Glass (broken hand) and defensemen Rob Scuderi (broken ankle) and Brooks Orpik (concussion) are practicing and appear close to returning. Center Evgeni Malkin (lower body) has been skating on his own but has not returned to practice. Forwards Jayson Megna (lower body), Andrew Ebbett (broken ankle) and Beau Bennett (hand/wrist surgery), defensemen Kris Letang (upper body) and Paul Martin (fractured tibia), and goalie Tomas Vokoun (blood clot) are on injured reserve. … The Hurricanes are without goalie Anton Khudobin (ankle) and defenseman Joni Pitkanen (broken left heel). Defenseman Jay Harrison (upper body) is day-to-day.

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