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Hurricanes vs Penguins: Preview

Finally at Hockey .500, the Hurricanes look to continue climbing the ranks as they take on the Penguins tonight in the first of two games this week against their Metro division rivals.

Jamie Kellner

Carolina Hurricanes vs Pittsburgh Penguins
January 12, 2016 - 7:00 pm ET
PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
Fox Sports Carolinas - 99.9 FM - WRALSportsFan app
SB Nation Rivals - Pensburgh

Vital Statistics

Hurricanes Penguins
Record 18-18-7 20-16-5
Points 43 45
Division Rank 7th Metro 5th Metro
Conference Rank 13th EC 11th EC
Last 10 Games 5-3-2 5-3-2
Streak Won 1 Won 1

Goals/Game 2.37 2.34
Goals Against/Game 2.72 2.37
ES Goals For % 45.8% 47.4%
Shots/Game 29.7 32.0
Shots Against/Game 26.2 31.8
ES Corsi For % 53.3% 50.3%
Faceoff % 53.3% 50.4%
ES PDO 97.9 99.2
Power Play % (Rank) 16.8% (25) 19.0% (12)
Penalty Kill % (Rank) 79.8% (19) 85.7% (5)
PIM/Game 06:30 08:24

Goaltender #1 Ward Fleury
Record 13-11-4 15-11-0
ES Save % .913 .931
GAA 2.42 2.24

Goaltender #2 Lack Zatkoff
Record 5-7-3 3-4-1
ES Save % .899 .925
GAA 2.41 2.60

*Stats from and War on Ice

Game Notes

  • Welcome to "Hockey .500", Canes fans. While 43 points in 43 games may seem trivial, it's the first time the Hurricanes have achieved that milestone since Ron Francis became GM. Though still a long shot for any post-season hopes, their season continues to trend in a positive direction. If the Canes can average around 13 points for every 10 remaining games, it would give them 94 points, which should be close to the playoffs cutline.
  • If the Canes are to make any sort of playoff push, they will need to leapfrog the Pittsburgh Penguins, who they will play twice this week. The Canes are only two points behind their Metro division rival in the standings, but the Penguins have played two fewer games. The Canes defeated the Penguins earlier this season in their first of five head-to-head games, but the Penguins are 5-2-2 since that game, and this time they will have Marc-Andre Fleury (13-9-1-2 career against the Canes) and Kris Letang back in the lineup.
  • Since giving up two power play goals against the Canes in their loss on Dec. 19, the Penguins have been perfect on the penalty kill in 25 attempts, and their power play has been 11-for-32 (34.4%) since that date.
  • The usual suspects are at the top of the Penguins scoring leaderboard. Evgeni Malkin leads the team in goals (19) and points (39), Sidney Crosby is second in points (12g, 19a) and Kris Letang leads the team in assists (21). The Penguins are actually ranked lower than the Canes this season in goals per game (2.34 versus 2.37) but they've averaged three goals per game since the teams last met.
  • After a cross country trip followed by back-to-back games, fatigue started to set in for the Canes in the last half of Saturday's game, as they allowed the Blue Jackets to tie the game with three unanswered goals before ultimately prevailing 4-3 in overtime. The team took a day off from practice Sunday (though players stayed busy with a fan event) and Bill Peters held a very limited practice yesterday. There are no expected changes to the defensive pairings, and Cam Ward will likely be the starting netminder, but in the forward ranks the team could potentially get a boost from players returning from injury. Nathan Gerbe, Phil Di Giuseppe, and Victor Rask all skated in regular (full contact) gear, and none have been ruled out from returning to the lineup today pending medical evaluation. Stay tuned for updates after the morning skate. (UPDATE 11:00 AM: Victor Rask will be back in the lineup. Cam Ward confirmed as tonight's starting goaltender).
  • Jordan Staal needs no extra motivation against his former team, but over the last few games he has unlocked Beast Mode achievement with a goal and assist in each of the last three games including Saturday's overtime game-winner. Kris Versteeg now leads the team in assists (19) and his goal in Saturday's game was his 300th career NHL point. Noah Hanifin is riding a three-game points streak, and Eric Staal, Elias Lindholm and Jaccob Slavin all have points in their last two games.
  • Congratulations to Hurricanes Hall of Fame radio voice Chuck Kaiton, who was honored yesterday as North Carolina Sportscaster of the year by the National Sportscaster and Sportswriters Association.

Projected Lineups

Hurricanes (1/12 morning skate)

Kris Versteeg - Eric Staal - Elias Lindholm
Joakim Nordstrom - Jordan Staal - Andrej Nestrasil
Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Brock McGinn
Riley Nash - Jay McClement - Brad Malone

John-Michael Liles - Justin Faulk
Jaccob Slavin - Ron Hainsey
Noah Hanifin - Brett Pesce

Cam Ward
Eddie Lack

Injuries and scratches: James Wisniewski (IR ACL), Nathan Gerbe (IR ankle), Phillip Di Giuseppe (concussion), Chris Terry (healthy), Michal Jordan (healthy)

Penguins (1/12 morning skate)

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - David Perron
Patric Hornqvist - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel
Tom Kuhnhackl - Nick Bonino - Bryan Rust
Kevin Porter - Matt Cullen - Eric Fehr

Olli Maatta - Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin - Ben Lovejoy
Ian Cole - Trevor Daley

Marc-Andre Fleury
Jeff Zatkoff

Injuries and Scratches: Beau Bennett (IR upper body), Sergei Plotnikov (healthy), David Warsofsky (healthy), Adam Clendening (healthy)

Storm Debris

  • Canes Gameday Hub [].
  • Penguins Digital Preview [].
  • Bill Peters media scrum from 1/11 practice [].
  • National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame and national/state awards recipients [NSSA].
  • Yesterday the Hurricanes players and staff participated in their annual Skate With The Canes benefitting the Kids 'n Community Foundation [ photos].
  • Jordan Staal continues to have impact for the Canes [N&O] while an uncertain future weighs on his brother [N&O].
  • Noah Hanifin and the young defensive talent core continue to shine [Technician].
  • A look at the Canes' most frequently-used and productive forward lines [Section 328].
  • Midseason report card for the Canes forwards [Today's Slapshot].
  • A look at Eric Staal in the 2016-17 season and beyond [Canes & Coffee].
  • The Checkers are now on a 12-game points streak. Here's how they keep things going last week (including a sweep in San Diego against former Cane Anton Khudobin) [GoCheckers].
  • Catching up with Alex Nedeljkovic after his stellar performance at World Juniors [N&O].
  • The Penguins and Canes play again this coming Sunday at 3:00 pm in Pittsburgh. Also playing on Sunday, the Panthers and Seahawks (1:00 pm) and Steelers and Broncos (4:30 pm). The Penguins asked the Canes if they would be willing to change Sunday's start time to 1:00 pm but the Canes said nah  [].
  • Former Penguin Ryan Whitney shares wildly entertaining tales from his time in Russia [Players Tribune].
  • Last but not least, remembering David Bowie, who turned NHL stars into 'Heroes' [Puck Daddy].