Neal, Pens visit struggling Hurricanes

James Neal will try to lead the Penguins to a third straight victory tonight, as Pittsburgh visits the struggling Carolina Hurricanes for tonight's battle at RBC Center.

Neal scored two times against his former team on Friday night and helped lead the Penguins to a 3-1 victory over the visiting Dallas Stars.

The winger has notched three goals and four assists during a current five-game point streak and he is leading Pittsburgh in both goals (11) and points (16) this season. Neal's two goals on Friday against the club that traded him last February put him just one marker behind Toronto's Phil Kessel for the league lead.

"It's always nice to get it against your former team," said Neal. "The main thing is us playing a top team and beating them. They came in here to play us hard and we came back and played a great game ourselves."

Matt Cooke scored a penalty shot goal while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 19 shots for the Penguins, who are leading the Atlantic Division and are sporting a 7-1-1 record over their last nine games.

The Penguins are a first-place team despite playing the entire season so far without captain Sidney Crosby, who is still sidelined with the concussion he suffered last January. Crosby has been practicing since the start of training camp and was cleared for contact last month, but he has been ruled out for tonight's contest.

Carolina, meanwhile, will try to regroup tonight after suffering their fourth straight loss Friday evening in New York City. The Hurricanes were slammed by the Rangers, 5-1, and have been outscored by a combined 18-6 margin during their four-game slide.

Dan Girardi and Brandon Dubinsky scored nine seconds apart midway through the third period to help lift the Rangers past the 'Canes. Alexei Ponikarovsky scored Carolina's only goal in the second period. Cam Ward made 35 saves, but yielded four goals on 17 shots in the final period.

Carolina is 3-3-1 as the host this season and is playing the first of two straight on home ice tonight. The Hurricanes will also welcome Philadelphia to town on Tuesday.

The Penguins are 5-2-2 on the road this season.

Pittsburgh won three of four meetings against the Hurricanes last season, but Carolina has still claimed four of seven and six of the last 10 encounters between the clubs. The Pens have also dropped two of three and seven of their last 10 games in Raleigh.