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Game Day Canes at Penguins: Auld Lang Syne Edition

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot” seems an appropriate sentiment as the Hurricanes close out 2014 against a familiar rival.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Hurricanes at Pittsburgh Penguins
December 31, 2014 - 7:00 pm ET
CONSOL Energy Center - Pittsburgh, PA
TV - Fox Sports Carolinas
Radio - 99.9 FM The Fan
SB Nation Rival Blog - Pensburgh

Fancy Stats

Hurricanes Penguins
Record 10-22-4 22-9-5
Points 24 49
Division Rank 8th Metro 1st Metro
Conference Rank 16th EC 2nd EC
Streak Lost 2 Lost 3

Power Play % 17.7% 22.5%
Penalty Kill % 84.8% 86.9%
Goals/Game 1.97 2.97
Goals Against/Game 2.64 2.31
Shots/Game 29.3 30.8
Shots Against/Game 27.8 30.3
ES Goals For % 39.8% 50.6%
ES Corsi For % 51.2% 56.7%
ES PDO 96.6 101.7
PIM/Game 7.8 15.6

Goaltender Ward Fleury
Record 9-14-2 19-6-3
ES Save Percentage .914 .930
GAA 2.41 2.16

Goaltender Khudobin Greiss
Record 1-8-2 3-2-2
ES Save Percentage .903 .924
GAA 2.71 2.52

Stats via and War on Ice

Game Notes

  • Yes, this is a match-up between the team in first place in the Metro division and the team in last place, but Canes versus Penguins is much more about the rivalries of days gone by and history between the organizations and players, including general managers who each won a Stanley Cup with the opposing team and players who were featured in high-profile trades by those same GMs.
  • Tonight's game is the third of four in the season series. The teams split wins in back-to-back home-and-home games over Thanksgiving weekend with the road team prevailing in each.
  • Taking a look back to the 4-2 Canes win in Pittsburgh on November 28th, the highlight no doubt was an unbelievable save by Cam Ward on Blake Comeau that made all the 2014 top ten save lists (let's watch that again, shall we?). An honorable mention would go to Sidney Crosby's ten-minute misconduct awarded at the end of the game for mouthing off at the referees. There weren't many lowlights for the Canes, perhaps quick mention of Kris Letang answering Jiri Tlusty just 43 seconds after Tlusty scored the opening goal of the game.
  • Looking back to the 3-2 loss in Raleigh on November 29th, the highlight would have to be Nathan Gerbe making his presence known to Simon Depres, then answering Jayson Megna's retaliation with a body slam (let's watch that again, shall we?). The lowlight would have to be John-Michael Liles and Jay Harrison spectating as Robert Bortuzzo waltzed between them for the go-ahead goal.
  • The Hurricanes picked up after the Christmas break exactly where they left off, able to score only one goal apiece in losses to the Lightning and Canadiens. For the first time all season, their goals-per-game average has dropped to below two (1.97). Only Buffalo has fewer (1.86) and the gap is narrowing. Through 36 games they have lost twice as many available points (48) as they have earned (24).
  • Back in the line-up Monday after missing the first 35 games, Jordan Staal made his presence known with an assist and 60% (15/25) faceoff win rate in 19:01 of ice time. Jordan had a scare at the end of the game after P.K. Subban crashed into his recently-rehabilitated ankle, causing obvious pain at the time, but no damage was done and he returned to practice yesterday. Jiri Tlusty, back after missing seven games, also showed up on the score sheet with an assist.
  • Alexander Semin returned to practice yesterday for the first time in over a week, and is close to making a return to the line-up. He traveled to Pittsburgh with the team but will not be in tonight's game. Andrej Nestrasil did not practice or travel. John-Michael Liles also did not travel with the team; he has been placed on IR with an illness. In his place, Ryan Murphy has been recalled from Charlotte and is expected to be in the line-up tonight.
  • Cam Ward will get the start in net as confirmed by Bill Peters in his interview after yesterday's practice.
  • The Penguins jumped out to an huge early lead in the Metro and Eastern Conference standings, which was fortunate for them since they're now facing some adversity. They have lost their last three games in a row including both games since returning from the Christmas break (to division rival Capitals and Devils).
  • There are two reasons for the Penguins recent turn of fortune. First, they have been decimated by illnesses and injuries. Several players have been out of the line-up due to the mumps outbreak, and there are currently TEN players on injured reserve. Three players - Craig Adams, Beau Bennett, and Christain Ehrhoff - practiced yesterday and could be available tonight, more will be known as the day progresses. Goaltender Thomas Greiss returned to practice yesterday after missing four games with the mumps, and is expected to back up Marc-Andre Fleury tonight.
  • The second reason is that captain Sidney Crosby is in a slump. After leading the NHL with 23 points (and eight goals) in his first 17 games, he has only scored two goals during his last 15 games. Despite Crosby's decline, he's still in the league's top ten in points and is generating scoring opportunities. Crosby has been lethal against the Canes with 36 points in 28 career games, along with perpetual Canes-killer Evgeni Malkin, who has 29 points in 26 career games. Malkin leads the team with 16 goals, and his 41 points are good enough for fourth place in the league.

Potential line-ups

Hurricanes (from Monday's game)

Eric Staal - Jordan Staal - Elias Lindholm
Jiri Tlusty - Victor Rask - Nathan Gerbe
Jeff Skinner - Riley Nash - Chris Terry
Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Patrick Dwyer

Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk
Tim Gleason - Michal Jordan
Ron Hainsey - Brett Bellemore

Cam Ward
Anton Khudobin

Injuries and Scratches: Andrej Nestrasil (IR upper body), John-Michael Liles (IR illness), Alexander Semin (DTD upper body), Zach Boychuk (healthy)

Penguins (from Tuesday's practice)

Evgeni Malkin - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Chris Kunitz - Brandon Sutter - Beau Bennett*
Nick Spaling - Marcel Goc - Jayson Megna
Rob Klinkhammer/Bobby Farnham - Andrew Ebbett - Craig Adams*

Derrick Pouliot - Kris Letang
Scott Harrington - Christian Ehrhoff*
Rob Scuderi - Simon Despres
Robert Bortuzzo

Marc-Andre Fleury
Thomas Greiss

Injuries: *Craig Adams (IR undisclosed), *Beau Bennett (IR lower body), Blake Comeau (IR upper body), Pascal Dupuis (IR blood clots), Patrick Hornqvist (IR lower body), Zach Sill (IR upper body), Scott Wilson (IR), *Christian Ehrhoff (IR lower body), Olli Maatta (IR upper body), Paul Martin (IR undisclosed), Steve Downie (mumps)