The Pittsburgh Penguins (14-13-3) will try to build some momentum Thursday coming off a confidence-boosting win when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at PPG Paints Arena.
Following a 7-0 loss Saturday at Toronto that left the Penguins using words like ashamed and embarrassed, they ran up a three-goal lead Monday against Minnesota, only to have the Wild come back and tie it. However, team captain Sidney Crosby quickly restored the lead, and the Penguins played well enough to preserve the one-goal edge for a 4-3 win.
The Hurricanes (17-12-3) ended a two-game losing streak (0-0-2) Tuesday by beating the top team in the Western Conference, Vegas, 6-3.
The game starts a little after 7 p.m.
The Penguins have been here before in an inconsistent season – looking to try to make sure a positive turn in the season doesn’t become fleeting. To do that, they will have to avoid any sort of backsliding against the Hurricanes.
They are 3-3-2 in their past eight games.
One burden that seemingly has been lifted is the monstrous power-play drought that plagued the Penguins for 13-plus straight games. In three of their past four games (the exception, of course, being the Toronto fiasco), they have scored two power-play goals, going 6 of 13 in those three games.
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Carolina sits six points ahead of the Penguins, who have two games in hand, going into the Metropolitan Division showdown.
The Hurricanes have a five-game point streak (3-0-2), their longest of the season, but goals goals have been hard to come by at times.
They are 4-4-2 in December. In those six losses, they have scored 13 goals, and five of those came in the same game.
Tuesday, Carolina got a goal from Andrei Svechinkov, who returned after a six-game absence because of an upper-body injury.
One bright spot has been goaltender Pytor Kochetkov, who is 3-0-1 in his past four starts. He has filled in admirably for Frederick Andersen, who has been out since late November because of a blood clot issue.
Penguins Expected Lines
Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Rickard Rakell
Reilly Smith-Evgeni Malkin-Valttieri Puustinen
Radim Zohorna-Lars Eller-Drew O’Connor
Jansen Harkins-Noel Acciari-Jeff Carter
Ryan Graves-Erik Karlsson
Marcus Pettersson-Kris Letang
John Ludvig-Chad Ruhwedel
Expected Hurricanes Lines
Stefan Noesen-Sebastian Aho-Seth Jarvis
Michael Bunting-Jesperi Kotkaniemi-Martin Necas
Jordan Martinook-Jordan Staal-Jesper Fast
Andrei Svechnikov-Jack Drury-Teuvo Teravainen
Jacob Slaven-Brent Burns
Brady Skjei-Brett Pesce
Dmitri Orlov-Jalen Chatfield
Penguins Special Teams
Penguins power play: 14.4%, 26th
Penguins penalty kill: 81.6%, 11th
Hurricanes power play: 81.4%, 13th
Hurricanes penalty kill: 23.9%, 9th
Penguins Game Notes
The Penguins are 12-8-4 in their past 24 games against Carolina, 1-0-2 in their past three home games against the Hurricanes.
Sidney Crosby has 62 points (22 goals, 40 assists) in 56 career games against Carolina; Evgeni Malkin has 42 points (14 goals, 28 assists) in 47 career games against them; and Jake Guentzel has 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) in 19 career games against them.
Malkin, with 482 career goals, is one shy of tying Sergei Fedorov for the second-most in the NHL by a Russian-born player. He tops the list of Russian-born NHLers with 773 assists.
Sidney Crosby is two goals shy of becoming the second active player (Alex Ovechkin) and 22nd player overall to reach 20 goals in 16 seasons.
Erik Karlsson has 599 assists and would become the second active defenseman to reach 600. The other is Carolina’s Brent Burns (602).
Rookie winger Valtteri Puustinen has five points, all assists, in his first six games. That includes two assists Monday against Minnesota.
The Penguins will wear their third jerseys for the game.
How to Watch
TV: SportsNet Pittsburgh
Radio: 105.9 FM The X