Pens seek rebound effort against Staal, Hurricanes

The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to rebound from only their fourth loss of the month when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes for Thursday's test at PNC Arena.

The Penguins had a two-game win streak snapped Tuesday at Florida and fell to 10-4-0 in their last 14 contests. The 6-4 setback against the Panthers was also just the third road defeat for Pittsburgh this season, dropping the club to 8-3-0 as the guest.

Pittsburgh will try to get back on track Thursday in the middle test of a three-game road trip that is set to end Saturday in Montreal.

The Pens won't have star centerman Evgeni Malkin for either contest, but the Russian sniper was able to skate Wednesday in Pittsburgh for the first time since sustaining a concussion last week. There is still no timetable for his return to game action.

Pittsburgh won its first game without Malkin, a 5-3 decision Sunday against Tampa Bay, but the Pens got themselves in an early hole against the Panthers. Florida led 4-1 midway through the second period only to allow Pittsburgh to tie the game by the end of 40 minutes.

However, Florida scored the only two goals of the third period to skate away with two points.

"Thought we did a good job battling back, getting into a game we had no business being in, but we gave it away in the third," said Penguins forward Chris Kunitz.

Kunitz and James Neal each posted a goal and an assist for the Penguins.

Tomas Vokoun was yanked by Pittsburgh halfway through the second period for allowing four goals on 22 shots. Marc-Andre Fleury allowed one goal on 13 shots in relief and took the loss

The Pens will try to bounce back Thursday against a Carolina club that has lost four of its last five games. The Hurricanes have been shut out twice during that stretch, including a 3-0 loss to Washington on Tuesday. Braden Holtby stopped all 33 shots fired at him by the Hurricanes.

Cam Ward made 37 saves in defeat for the Hurricanes. Former Capital forward Alex Semin made his return to America's capital and was a minus-one with four shots on net in more than 21 minutes of ice time.

"I was happy with the effort tonight," said Carolina head coach Kirk Muller. "We had some opportunities to score. We didn't score on those, couple of 2- on-1's. They gave it everything they had."

Carolina is just 3-4-0 in Raleigh this season, but it has a chance to turn that record around with two straight and five of its next six games on home ice.

This game will also be Carolina centerman Jordan Staal's first game against his former team. Staal was selected by the Penguins with the second overall pick in the 2006 draft and helped the team win a Cup in 2009. He was traded to Carolina for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and the eighth overall pick in last year's draft.

Pittsburgh has won three straight and six of eight in the series with Carolina. The Hurricanes have three victories over the last five meetings in Raleigh.