When: November 19 2010 | Where: Consol Energy Center
The Penguins meet the Carolina Hurricanes for the second time this season Friday night. Pittsburgh took the first match in Carolina behind a 33-save shutout performance by Brent Johnson. Pittsburgh is riding a record of 4-1-1 in their last six games and a decisive 3-1 win over Cup favorite Vancouver on Wednesday.
Carolina is making a better show of things this season after dropping to the bottom of the league early last year, a hole from which they never recovered. The Penguins are starting to come around on the year, and can improve their home record to .500 with a win.
Carolina will have a few new pieces for the game. The Hurricanes completed a deal this week to send Tom Kostopoulos and Anton Babchuk to Calgary. In exchange, the Canes receive forward Brett Sutter and former Maple Leafs defenseman Ian White.
Dominate play by Sidney Crosby is propelling the offense while Marc-Andre Fleury’s recent play has helped solidify the team. Wednesday’s win over Vancouver was an example of what the team can do when they remain focused for the duration of a game.
Friday’s game has the makings of another high-scoring game. The Hurricanes are top-5 in scoring and bottom-5 in goals against and penalty kill percentage.
In their last three games, the Hurricanes have lost by scores of 8-1 and 7-2 while winning 7-1 Wednesday.
9-9-0, 18 pts.
3rd Southeast, 10th East
5-3-0 Home, 4-6-0 Away
5-5-0 Last 10
10-8-2, 22 pts.
2nd Atlantic, 6th East
4-5-1 Home, 6-3-1 Away
5-4-1 Last 10
The talk in Penguins circles is that the Penguins are starting to find their game. A key for Pittsburgh will be getting the first goal as Carolina is 7-0-0 when scoring first.
Dan Bylsma talked this morning of how the Penguins are meeting the “standard” and he’s had the feeling that his hockey club has started to turn the corner since the Anaheim game on November 5th.
“The theme we continue to talk about is the standard that we set with our work ethic, battle level and physicality, ” Bylsma said.
“I do feel our team has a good understanding of how we need to play on both sides of the puck and what we need to do in both of those situations when we have and trying to execute it. We’re getting better on both of those scenarios and you’re seeing that in results of our game but also scoring chances against, we kept Vancouver under 10”
Bylsma was asked this morning about what type of game he seeks from his hockey club. He said it’s about “tilting the ice”
“We talk about tilting the ice 70/30, ” Bylsma said. “We want to play the game 70 percent in the offensive zone.”
*The Penguins struggling power play (12.8%, 25th) goes up against a poor Carolina Hurricanes penalty kill unit.
The Hurricanes are 28th in the NHL on the PK at 75%.
Paul Martin who will man the right point for the second straight game, said the chances have been there for the Penguins and “hopefully” they put some pucks in the back of the net.
“You know it’s pretty basic, ” Martin said about what he’s trying to accomplish tonight. “With those guys out there, looking to get them in a good position where they can do something with the puck. Lately, we just been moving the puck well and just getting pucks to the net. It’s tough when you see 0-for-6 on the board but when your doing the little things and getting chances, definetely makes you feel better about it but hopefully we can get a couple in the back of the net.
Carolina is strong in even-strength scoring, ranking as high as 5th in the NHL in goals per game despite a power play that ranks 19th (15.7 percent). In their last four games, however, the Canes are 6 for 23 on the man-advantage (26.1 percent).
Pittsburgh similarly is good 5-on-5, ranking 8th in goals per game in spite of the anemic 12.8 percent power play (25th overall). Even worse, since October 21, the Penguins PP is 4 for 54 (7.4 percent).
Carolina is still in search of an identity defensively. The Hurricanes are 28th overall in goals against (3.4) and penalty kill percentage (75.0).
In spite of visible struggles during some of their uglier losses, the Pittsburgh defense has played well, at least statistically. Pittsburgh is 12th in the NHL in goals against (2.7 per game).
The Pittsburgh penalty kill remains tremendous, going 5 for 5 against a second-ranked Vancouver power play and staying put at 5th in the NHL (88.2 percent).
Cam Ward has kept the Hurricanes afloat with a .912 save percentage. The Hurricanes are allowing over 33 shots against per game. Ward though will not get the start.
Tonight’s goaltending matchup will be between Marc Andre Fleury (4-6-1-, 2.88 GAA, .883 sv%) and Canes backup Justin Peters (0-2-0, 4.76 GAA, .841 sv%)
Pittsburgh has averaged over 31 shots per game, while allowing 27 shots against.
Carolina has scored twice shorthanded while allowing two more. Max Talbot landed the Pens’ fourth shorthanded marker Wednesday, though the team has also allowed 3 shorthanded goals.
The ratio of 1 shorthanded goal allowed for every 4 power play goals scored remains intact.
Sidney Crosby’s line as of Friday: 13G, 16A, 29 pts. and 5PPG. All those numbers lead the Penguins. Crosby now has points in seven straight.
Malkin has points in five of his last six. Max Talbot has 6 points in his last 9, scoring multiple points in two of his last four and landing a shorthanded marker against Roberto Luongo Wednesday.
Marc-Andre Fleury has been the biggest producer of late. Fleury is now 3-0-1 in his last four with a 1.73 GAA.
Eric Staal paced the Hurricanes’ 7-1 win with a hat trick and two assists. Staal now has scored two or more points in four of five.
Rookie Jeff Skinner has come up huge for the Hurricanes, second to Staal in goals (6) and points (15). Skinner leads all NHL rookies with 15 points, 9 assists, 5 power play points and 4 power play assists.
Marc-Andre Fleury continues to right his numbers. Fleury is now 4-6-1 overall. His GAA dipped below 3 for the first time this season after the Vancouver win. Fleury is now a 2.88 with a .883 save percentage.
Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis
Cooke – Malkin – Asham
Conner – Letestu – Kennedy
Rupp – Talbot – Adams
Orpik – Letang
Martin – Michalek
Goligoski – Engelland
Starting Goaltender: Marc Andre Fleury
Expected Scratches: Mike Comrie, Eric Godard, Ben Lovejoy