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Penguins Vs. Hurricanes: Pens Try To Stop Bleeding At Carolina

Sports Network | October 30, 2010

 

(Sports Network) - The suddenly sliding Pittsburgh Penguins will try to avoid a fourth straight loss when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes for tonight's clash at RBC Center.

The Penguins won four in a row from October 15-21, but have since posted an 0-2-1 record. The most recent setback came last night against Philadelphia, as Claude Giroux scored a pair of goals to lead the hated Flyers to a 3-2 victory at CONSOL Energy Center.

Kris Letang had a goal and an assist while Tyler Kennedy scored the other goal for the Penguins, who last dropped four in a row during a five-game slide from Dec. 27-Jan. 3 of last season.

"We didn't give ourselves a good chance by the way we executed," Pens captain Sidney Crosby said.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 21 shots in the loss and fell to 1-5-0 this season. Brent Johnson, who is making a serious case to supplant Fleury as the team's regular starter, is expected to get the call tonight. Johnson is 4-0-1 this year and has a 1.39 goals-against average compared to Fleury's 3.35 GAA.

This evening's tilt marks the first of four straight on the road for Pittsburgh, which has a 3-1-1 record away from the Steel City this season.

The Hurricanes will try to post consecutive victories tonight for the first time since a season-opening sweep of Minnesota in Helsinki, Finland. Carolina also played on Friday night and recorded a 4-3 road victory over the New York Rangers.

Erik Cole scored the game-winner with 3:59 to play to lift Carolina to the victory at Madison Square Garden.

Jeff Skinner scored twice and added an assist while Tuomo Ruutu had a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes, who had dropped four of six coming into the contest. Cam Ward made 40 saves in the win.

"It was pretty cool playing in this building and it was great to get the win," said Skinner. "Solid game all around from the guys and the two goals were just a bonus."

Skinner, an 18-year-old rookie, has seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) in his first nine NHL games and has earned his right to stay with Carolina. The seventh overall pick of the 2010 draft is expected to play in his 10th game tonight, meaning Skinner's three-year NHL contract will begin to take effect. The Hurricanes could still opt to send Skinner back to his junior club in Kitchener this year, but Carolina would still be on the hook for his three- year, $2.7 million entry-level deal.

"I think he belongs on this team with the way he's been playing," said Ruutu, Skinner's linemate . "I would hate to play against him because he's so quick and makes you take a lot of penalties."

The Hurricanes are playing just their third home game of the year, having split the previous two tests at RBC Center.

Carolina won three out of four against the Penguins last year and the Hurricanes recorded victories in each of the last three meetings. The 'Canes have taken five of six and six of nine overall in this series and Pittsburgh has dropped two of three and six of its last eight in Raleigh.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.