Penguins seek redemption against Hurricanes after blow out loss


One night after falling 6-2 to the Boston Bruins on home ice, the Penguins host the Carolina Hurricanes (7:00 P.M. EST on ROOT) for their second game in as many nights.

In search of their first win under the Mike Sullivan era, general manager Jim Rutherford made a couple of roster moves to try to find a source of light at the end of the tunnel. Rutherford recalled forward Scott Wilson from AHL Wilkes-Barre and sent down 18-year-old Daniel Sprong to the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).

Rutherford talked about how Sprong needs to see more ice time at a lower level compared to what he was getting in the NHL.

Wilson, 23, is tied for 11th in the AHL in points with 24, but leads the league in goals with 15.

Both teams have struggled of late coming in to this game.  The Penguins have lost three in a row and eight of their last 10 games (2-5-3) while the Hurricanes are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, including dropping a 2-0 decision last night to the Florida Panthers at PNC Arena.

Here are the projected line combinations for both teams, according to Correspondent Wes Crosby:

Carolina Hurricanes

Kris Versteeg – Eric Staal – Elias Lindholm

Joakim Nordstrom – Jordan Staal – Andrej Nestrasil

Jeff Skinner – Victor Rask – Phillip Di Giuseppe

Brad Malone – Jay McClement – Chris Terry

Ron Hainsey – Justin Faulk

John-Michael Liles – Brett Pesce

Noah Hanifin – Jaccob Slavin

Cam Ward

Pittsburgh Penguins

Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Conor Sheary

David Perron – Evgeni Malkin – Phil Kessel

Sergei Plotnikov – Nick Bonino – Patric Hornqvist

Scott Wilson – Matt Cullen – Eric Fehr

Olli Maatta – Trevor Daley

Brian Dumoulin – Ben Lovejoy

Ian Cole – David Warsofsky

Matt Murray

Breaking Down the Goalie Matchup

Carolina is expected to start Cam Ward in tonight’s game for the second time in as many nights.  Ward was the hard-luck loser in the shutout loss against the Panthers after only surrendering one goal in 17 shots faced (second goal was an empty netter).  The Saskatoon, SK, native has appeared in 23 games this year with 22 of them coming via starts.  In those 23 games, he is 9-9-3 with a 2.65 goals-against average and an .894 save percentage.  However, he has had some success against the Penguins in his career.  In 24 lifetime appearances, he is 14-7-3 with a 2.35 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage.

More from Pittsburgh Penguins

Matt Murray is expected to make his NHL debut tonight against the Hurricanes.  In 17 games played in the AHL for Wilkes-Barre, he was 12-4 with a 1.84 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage and four shutouts.  The 6’4″ 178 pound Ontario native is looking to solve the Penguins’ continuous woes.

Players To Watch

Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes has scored 14 goals in 32 games this year, but he has recorded two hat tricks in his last three games.  In addition to the hat tricks, Skinner potted nine goals and dished out one helper in the last seven game stretch.

Also, for the Hurricanes, defenseman Justin Faulk leads the team in goals (12), assists (14), and points (26).  All of his goals have been scored on the power play, so if the Penguins go down a man for a time period, Faulk is the guy they have to hone in on.

Dec 18, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Conor Sheary (43) skates with the puck against the Boston Bruins during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In terms of the Penguins, Conor Sheary continues to impress the coaching staff and management after his call up Wednesday in Boston.  Sheary netted his first NHL goal and assist in last night’s 6-2 loss against the Bruins in Pittsburgh.  The assist came on Trevor Daley’s first goal of the year and as a member of the Penguins.

Keys to the Game

The First 10 Minutes

It is vital for the Penguins to establish the tempo and ease Murray into his first NHL game instead of throwing him in the fire right off of the hop.  They need to play with speed, get the puck deep, establish a heavy forecheck, and pay attention to detail.  The first ten minutes can be some of the most important minutes of a game, and if they can dent the Hurricanes within that time frame and stick to the basics, the Penguins’ losing streak will end.

Special Teams Battle

Carolina and Pittsburgh are in the bottom third in the league in power play percentage.  However, that does not mean that it is okay for them to take penalties and expect to get away with it.  Carolina also occupies the fifth-worst penalty kill percentage in the entire league, which could spell great opportunities for the Penguins to cash in and potentially end their power play misfortunes if they end up with the man-advantage more times than not.

Next: New Penguins shine in loss to Boston Bruins

Sharing Is Caring

If the Penguins can generate scoring from up-and-down the lineup, they will win this game.  Malkin and Crosby will garner the most attention, which means that others need to step up.  One way to end a losing streak is to have contributions from others not named Evgeni Malkin.