By Annie Shean (@JustPuckIt)
The Penguins are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss against the St. Louis Blues Tuesday evening at home. Since the Penguins have only 11 healthy forwards the plan was to utilize Derrick Pouliott in an occasional forwards roll, however when defenseman Christian Ehrhoff was lost to injury 5:07 into the game that went out the window. The game appeared to be in the Penguins favor when they had two goals less than a minute away from each other in the second period. However the Blue’s were not done, and both former Penguins Robert Botuzzo and Marcel Goc scored to tie the game. Alexander Steen finished off the game less than a minute into overtime in a goal the Ben Lovejoy would want to take back.
The Penguins are now on the road to face the Carolina Hurricanes in their third and final meeting of the season. The last time the teams met in a back-to-back situation, where each road time was able to walk away with a win. In their last ten games the Penguins record is 4-4-2 and the Hurricanes are 2-5-3.
The Penguins will continue to be without two of their top scoring leaders, Malkin (28 goals) and Hornqvist (23 goals). Bright news is on the horizon however, since according to Head Coach mike Johnston they are close to retuning to the lineup, possibly even this weekend. Due to their injuries, and the upper body injury to Ehrhoff, the Penguins bench will be a man short tonight. Unfortunately the cap situation and travel constraints have limited their options adding another forward. The Hurricanes also aren’t without injuries; Defensemen Rissanen (MCL) and Defenseman Hillen (concussion) will continue to remain out of the lineup. Both top goaltenders Ward and Fleury will be facing each other tonight, which is sure to be a great tandem to watch.
The goal scoring leaders for the Hurricanes are E. Staal (19), Skinner (18), and Lindholm (16). As mentioned in the game day notes, The Hurricanes are the only team in the NHL team in the 2014-15 season with four of their five leading scorers 23- years old or younger. Faulk, Lindholm, Skinner, and Rask have brought some energy and scoring prowess to the team. Tonight will also be the first time that Jordan Staal will face his former team after an injury-riddled start for the centerman. So far this season he only has notches four goals and 18 points.
Things to Note:
– A win tonight would make a 5 year winning series streak against the Hurricanes
– Tonight the Hurricanes will wear their light jerseys & the Penguins will wear their dark
– Sidney Crosby is only 2 goals away from reaching 300
– Forward Victor Rask is the first Hurricanes rookie to score 10 or more goals in a season since Jeff Skinner (2010-11)
Expected Carolina Lines:
E. Staal-J. Staal-Gerbe
Healthy Scratches: Patrick Dwyer Brett Bellemore
Expected Penguins Lines: