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Gameday: Canes Get Second Crack at Pens

Monday, 10.28.2013 / 12:15 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Canes Get Second Crack at Pens
For the second time in less than three weeks, the Carolina Hurricanes will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in a battle between the second and first place teams, respectively, in the Metropolitan Division.

Michael Smith
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The Hurricanes would like a different outcome.

In Pittsburgh on Oct. 8, a three-goal third period from the Penguins, punctuated by Jussi Jokinen’s hat trick, buried the Canes in a 5-2 defeat, their first regulation loss of the young season. The two teams combined for 71 shots (Pittsburgh had 37, Carolina had 34), the most in a Carolina game this season.

“I’m not so much concerned about the amount of shots. It’s where the shots come from and the quality of shots. They’ve got some firepower over there,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “The last couple of times playing Pittsburgh, we’ve given them too many easy plays around the net and gave them more time than we wanted to for them to execute and make those plays. So we’ve got to tighten it up and play the game the right way.”

Playing the game the right way begins in the first period, and the Hurricanes have made it a point to address their starts after spotting Minnesota and Colorado two goals each in the opening frames of their last two losses.

“As a group, consistently, we just have to be smarter with some of the decisions we’re making, especially in the first period,” Eric Staal said after Sunday’s practice. “It’s just about being smarter in our game and not beating ourselves in certain positions on the ice. If we do that, we’ll be fine.”

“We don’t have to try to go out and win the game in the first. It’s more to go out and do the right things in the first,” Muller said. “Come out with enthusiasm, but channel it in the right way that we’re not giving up quality scoring chances.”

Patrick Dwyer will draw back into the lineup after missing two games with an upper-body injury. He’ll slot in on the right side on the second line, which should regularly match up against Sidney Crosby’s first line.

“Patty’s ready to go. He feels good,” Muller said. “That’s a pretty solid line to match up with some of their key lines.”

Justin Peters’ last start against the Penguins came in an 8-3 trouncing in the 2012-13 regular-season finale. But that was then, and this is now.

“We went in with a pretty depleted lineup last year in the last game of the year. I don’t really compare it,” Muller said. “We’re a whole different group right now. We’re fresh, and it’s a big game, even for this time of year.”

Nathan Gerbe will play in his 200th NHL game tonight against the same team that he faced in his second NHL game. He’ll do so skating on the right wing opposite Alexander Semin, who is riding a three game point streak (1g, 3a), on the first line.

The Canes have earned points in 13 of their last 18 home games against Pittsburgh, and they hold a 15-8-3 home record against the Pens since moving to Raleigh in 1999.

Tonight’s game also features two teams looking to get off the schneid; the Canes have lost two straight, and the Penguins have dropped three in a row.

“I think [tonight] will be an interesting game. There will be a lot of emotion and intensity,” Muller said. “We’re looking at it like we lost two. They’re going to be hungry and not very happy, and we’re not.”

“We feel we’ve got a really good team in here that could be higher up on the [standings] than we are. We don’t want to be satisfied with where we’re at,” Staal said. “We want to make sure we’re striving to be one of the top teams in the East.”



SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81