Hurricanes shoot for a win with Pens in town
The Carolina Hurricanes will try to put the brakes on a game losing streak and get Kirk Muller his first win when they welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins for tonight's clash at RBC Center.
The Hurricanes fired Paul Maurice on Monday after he led the team to an 8-13-4 start to the season. Muller hasn't fared well in his first two tilts behind the bench, as Carolina was dealt a pair of regulation losses.
After losing 3-1 to visiting Florida in Muller's debut on Tuesday, the Hurricanes continued the three-game homestand with Thursday's 5-3 loss to the New York Rangers. Five different players found the back of the net for New York in what was the eighth loss in 10 games for the Hurricanes.
"It's going to take baby steps," said Muller. "We just have to keep building, it's a challenge. We have to keep a positive attitude, keep grinding it out and just get ready to practice tomorrow."
Jiri Tlusty, Jeff Skinner and Derek Joslin scored and Eric Staal had two assists for the Hurricanes. Cam Ward was touched for all five goals on 27 shots in defeat for Carolina.
The Hurricanes are 5-8-2 as the host this year and will head out on a four- game road trip following tonight's test against Pittsburgh.
Carolina beat the Penguins, 5-3, in Raleigh on Nov. 12, giving the 'Canes wins in two straight and five of the last eight meetings in this series. Pittsburgh, which is just 7-6-2 on the road this year compared to an 8-1-2 mark at home, has lost two in a row and three of its last four games in North Carolina.
The Atlantic Division-leading Penguins have won three of their last four games overall and are coming off Thursday's road win in Washington. Tonight's tilt marks the end of a four-game swing for Pittsburgh.
Chris Kunitz scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period to help lift the Pens to a 2-1 win in D.C. Craig Adams also found the back of the net in the first period for Pittsburgh, which needed just 16 saves from Marc-Andre Fleury.
"Any time you can keep that team under 20 shots, you're playing well defensively. But you're also playing with the puck and going the other way," said Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma.
It was the fourth win in six games for Pittsburgh since Sidney Crosby returned last week. The Pittsburgh captain took a hard hit against the Capitals in the Winter Classic last January and played one more game before being sidelined with a concussion that kept him out until November 21.
Crosby has two goals and nine assists in those six games and has recorded an amazing 77 points over his last 47 regular-season contests. The former Hart Trophy winner has 26 points (7 goals, 19 assists) in 20 career games against Carolina.
The Penguins have played their last two games without defensemen Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek and neither player is expected to play tonight. Letang is suffering from a broken nose and concussion-like symptoms, while Michalek is also dealing with a possible concussion.