The Carolina Hurricanes perfromed well in their matchup with Eastern Conference frontrunner Washington last night, falling in overtime in a Southeast Division battle. Tonight they return home — and things don't get easier. Waiting for them are the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, who are well rested and haven't played since Sunday’s 2-1 win over Boston.
The Penguins made a few moves leading up to the NHL's trade deadline, acquiring winger Alexei Ponikarovsky and defenseman Jordan Leopold for the stretch run. One player they didn't get was Carolina’s Ray Whitney, who considered by many to be an ideal fit for the Penguins, instead settling on Ponikarovsky.
This is the third of four meetings this season between the two teams, with Carolina netting three of a possible four points so far. The 3-2 win Dec.7 was the Hurricanes’ first road win of the season, snapping a 13-game losing streak away from the RBC Center that greatly contributed to where the Hurricanes sit in the standings in mid-March.
Whitney has been a Pens killer so far this season, notching two-point games in each of the previous matchups. He had two third-period goals in the eventual 3-2 shootout loss Oct. 14, then had a goal — the game-winner — and an assist in the aforementioned streak-breaking road win. For Pittsburgh, grinder Michael Rupp has scored in both games, two of his 12 tallies on the season.
Expect Carolina coach Paul Maurice to start with the same lines as last night. Rookie Justin Peters will be in net, trying to bounce back from his first NHL loss, a 4-1 defeat against Florida Saturday night, after winning his first three outings. Here are the likely lines:
- Dwyer-Boychuk- Kostopoulos
Don't be surprised if Oskar Osala, who played less than seven minutes in the Hurricanes’ debut last night, gets a longer look tonight. He did not make it to D.C. in time for yesterday’s morning skate, so having a game under his belt and time to meet with the coaches should make him more prepared.
The Penguins will likely have Marc-Andre Fleury in net. Matt Cooke, who faced suspension for Sunday’s brutal head shot on the Bruins’ Marc Savard, was spared any discipline and will be in the lineup for the Penguins.
Game time is at 7 p.m. and it will be broadcasted in HD by FSN and on the radio by 99.9 The Fan.