The Middle East hotbed that seems to be imploding at the moment is the poor country of Yemen. The White House is still calling Yemen a good model for counterterrorism, while at the same time pulling all U.S. personnel out. Hmmm.
History will be made in Toronto tonight as forward Casey Bailey makes his NHL debut with the Maple Leafs against the Panthers. Bailey, who signed as an undrafted free agent last week, will become the first player in the history of Penn State's fledgling program to play in an NHL game.
Bailey, who skipped his senior season to go professional, had 40 points in 37 games for Penn State. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, was courted heavily by the Penguins and several other team but opted to join the Maple Leafs after a phone conversation with team president Brendan Shanahan.
As it turns out, Bailey has a minor connection to the Penguins by way of Beau Bennett. Earlier this week, Bennett talked about Bailey:
What's your connection to him?
"I grew up in the same district [in youth hockey] as him. He was in Anchorage and whenever we would try to our national camp, he would come down from Alaska. I'd come up from California. I played on one of his regional team I believe way back wen. So I know him a little bit."
So you don't really keep in touch with him?
"No but I'm sure he remembers me. I remember him. We had some battles against each other, always in regionals to go to nationals. It's a great thing he got signed out of Penn State. He's their first [NHL] guy to leave I think. So it's good for the program. Good for him."
What kind of player was he as a kid?
"Growing up, he wasn't the fastest guy. He was just really smart. Good shot. Always had a knack for scoring which I assume is what he did at Penn State. He was always a really smart player and he was one of the top guys on the Alaska team so we always had to keep an eye out for him."
-Mikael Samuelsson retired today. You may remember him as the one Samuelsson who wasn't a member of any of the Penguins' Stanley Cup winning teams or was related to any of them. Mikael Samuelsson came to the Penguins late in the 2002-03 season when general manager Craig Patrick dealt Mike Wilson, Alexei Kovalev, Janne Laukkanen and Dan LaCouture to the Rangers. Kovalev was the only worthwhile player out of that group. Wilson, Laukkanen and LaCouture were underpreforming. All four had big contracts which the cash-strapped Penguins couldn't afford any longer. In return, Patrick got Joel Bouchard, Richard Lintner, Rico Fata and Samuelsson. None really made an impact on the Penguins. Fata was probably the best known of the group because actually stuck around three seasons on some pretty awful team. Fairly or unfairly, Fata became the "face" of the awful 2003-04 team. He had an astounding minus-46 that season. Suffice it to say, after that trade, it was just an awful, awful time for the Penguins.
-Samuelsson only played 22 games and recorded two assists with the Penguins but was notable since he was part of another trade which changed the Penguins' fortunes. The Penguins had the third overall pick in the 2003 draft and wanted to move up. They sent the third overall pick, a second-round pick and Samuelsson to the Panthers in exchange for the No. 1 overall pick and a third-round pick. With that pick, they took Marc-Andre Fleury, arguably the greatest goaltneder in NHL history.
-On a side note, the Penguins drafted NHL pest Daniel Carcillo with that third-rounder.
-In one sense, Samuelsson's arrival ushured in a dark era for the Penguins. In another sense, his departure was the start of a pretty bright period.
-Per the team's Twitter account, the Penguins' lines and pairs are:
Daniel Winnik - Sidney Crosby - David Perron
Chris Kunitz - Brandon Sutter - Blake Comeau
Beau Bennett - Nick Spaling - Steve Downie
Maxime Lapierre - Craig Adams
Paul Martin - Kris Letang
Derrick Pouliot - Ben Lovejoy
Rob Scuderi - Ian Cole
-The Penguins must play with only 17 skaters tonight due to their injuries and their lack of salary cap space. They don't have a spare $550,000 (which is what a league minimum contract is) to call up someone like Bobby Farnham.
-They can request an emergency recall but they can only do after they have submitted a lineup with less than 20 skaters. If Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist and Christian Ehrhoff are each unavailable for Saturday's game, they can then get an emergency recall.
-If you're into legalese, here's the part of the NHL-NHLPA collective bargaining agreement which explains it:
-The Hurricanes are wearing white jerseys while the Penguins are wearing black.
-The Penguins' starters are Crosby, Perron, Winnik, Letang, Martin and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Ehrhoff, Hornqvist and Malkin.
-The Hurricanes' starters are Nathan Gerbe, Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Justin Faulk, Ron Hainsey and Cam Ward.
-Their scratches are Brett Bellemore, Patrick Dwyer, Jack Hillen and Rasmus Rissanen.
19:50: Winnik whistles a wrister from the left wing on net. Ward snags it.
19:26: Letang snaps off a wrister from the left point. Ward snags it.
18:53: Lovejoy chucks a wrister from the right point. Ward kicks it out.
18:09: Danny Biega directs a shot/pass from the left point. Victor Rask is in the slot and redirects it on net. Fleury fends it off.
16:55: Lapierre and Brad Malone mix it up in between the benches as they head off the ice. THey exchange a few mini cross checks. Both players get roughing minors. We'll see two minutes of four-on-four play.
16:46: Sutter motors up the right wing and snaps off a wrister which Ward punches away.
16:13: Deep on the right wing, Lovejoy snap off shot/pass to the net. As Sutter drives to the cage, Ward kicks it out.
16:06: The Penguins strike first. Jordan Staal tries to skate the rebound up ice but loses it to Crosby on the left half wall of the Carolina zone. Crosby then deals a pass to Lovejoy int he slot. Lovejoy snaps off a wrister which misses and hits off the end boards. Crosby recovers the rebound and backhands it into Ward's body. Sutter crashes in and punches in the puck. Crosby and Lovejoy get assists. Jordan Staal can take the blame for that goal. As usual, a healthy showing of Penguins fans cheer their team in Carolina. Penguins 1-0.
15:52: Ron Hainsey booms a slapper from center point wide of the cage.
14:55: The Hurricanes rebound immediately as play returns to five on five. Scuderi tries to wrap around around the end boards from the Penguins' right wing corner to Cole in the left corner. It's a weak attempt and Jordan Staal is right there to steal it on the end boards. From behind the cage, Jordan Staal backhands a pass to Eric Staal in the left circle and Eric Staal rips a wrister by Fleury's glove hand on the far side. That's a big rebound for Jordan Staal after his giveaway to Crosby. Jordan Staal keeps ripping up the Penguins. That's 42 points in 42 career games against them. Jordan Staal gets the only assists. Oh, and the Staals are brothers:
Hurricanes 1, Penguins 1.
14:32: A wrister by Pouliot from the left wing is kicked out of play by Ward.
14:10: Whoa. Kunitz steals a puck off Liles above the Hurricanes' left circle and rips a wrister from the high slot. It beats Ward's right skate but gets stuck on the clear plastic apron on the outside of the cage. It looks like it's in the cage but it's actually on the outside. Everyone involved looks kind of confused. It's definitely not a goal. Rangers forward Derek Stepan had this happen to him last week:
13:45: Malone is called for interference against Cole as they raced for a puck in the Penguins' zone. Crosby, Kunitz, Perron, Pouliot and Letang take the ice.
13:20: Crosby tries to whack a puck out of midair in the left circle. It trickles on net and is smothered by Ward.
12:22: Crosby controls the puck in his own zone as the teams make changes. He snaps off a pass from between his hash marks to Downie at the opposing blue line. He gets behind Faulk and Hainsey and attacks the net. He lifts a wrister and completely misses the net. Downie recovers his rebound and deals to Comeau entering the zone. Comeau fends off a check from Jordan Staal, falls and lifts a wrister on net which Ward smothers.
11:42: As Malone's minor expires, Comeau chucks a wrister from the left half wall wide of the cage.
11:33: The Hurricanes take a lead. Comeau's shot ends up clearing the Hurricane's zone and allows Rask to push it up the left wing. He gains the offensive zone and deals a pass to Malone who goes deep on the left wing and and snaps off a pass to Ryan Murphy in the slot. Sutter is late on his backcheck and Murphy is able to plunk in the easy goal by Fleury's left skate. The Penguins' don't need this. Malone and Rask get assists. Hurricanes 2-1.
10:47: Off a drop pass by Crosby, Adams blasts a slapper from the right circle. Ward kicks it out.
10:06: A wrister by Jeff Skinner from the right wing is blocked by Fleury.
9:54: Skinner lifts a wrister from the left half wall. Fleury eats it up.
9:05: Alexander Semin blast a slapper from above the left circle. Downie blocks it.
8:31: Wow. Just ... wow. Ward robs Perron. Crosby controls the puck in the left circle and feathers a smooth pass to Perron low in the right circle. Perron goes to one knee to settle the puck and lifts a wrister on a seemingly wide open net. Ward leans to his left and steals a goal with his glove hand. Wow. Stunning. He robbed Blake Comeau of a goal in Pittsburgh Nov. 28:
8:08: A slapper by Faulk from the right point hits a stick and deflects on net. Fleury snags it.
6:46: A wrister by Kunitz from the right circle is blocked by Liles.
6:38: Fleury comes up with his own big save. Elias Lindholm gets deep on the right wing behind Pouliot and sneaks a pass under a sliding Lovejoy. Skinner is in the slot and re-directs it on net. Fleury kicks it out. That's a huge save.
6:28: Liles chucks a wrister from the left wing on net. Fleury sangs it.
4:32: Following a strong shift by Spaling, Downie and Bennett deep in the Hurricanes zone, Cole lobs a wrister from center point which gets blocked.
3:28: After a turnover by Pouliot in his own right corner, Eric Staal lifts a backhander from the right circle. It clanks off a post.
3:13: Faulk booms a one-timer from the right point. Fleury kicks it out with a "thud."
2:08: Downie pounds a slapper from the left circle. Ward kicks it out.
1:28: Lovejoy thumps Skinner with a hit in front of the Penguins' penalty box.
1:09: The Penguins get another power play. Pouliot carries the puck from his own zone to the neutral zone and deals a little pass to Lapierre at the Carolina blue line. Lapierre dances around Faulk and fends off a slash from Gerbe. He attacks the net and puts it wide. Carolina regains the puck. Gerbe is called for slashingt. Letant, Poulit, Comeau, Crosby and Kunitz take the ice.
0:51: Off some perimeter passing, Crosby lobs a puck from the left point which Comeau re-directs on net from the left circle. Ward fights it off.
0:49: The puck is cleared to the neutral zone. Play is halted. Comeau is called for high sticking Faulk after Faulk cleared the rebound off Comeau's re-direct. We'll see 1:42 of four-on-four play.
0:19: Taking a feed from Martin, Crosby lugs the puck up ice, gains the offensive zone, twists Faulk around and lifts a wrister from the slot which Ward fights off.
0:00: End of period. Hurricanes 2, Penguins 1.
-That was a pretty inexcusable period for the Penguins. Given the funk their in and the circumstances of their roster, they can play this sloppy. They were very careless with the puck and gave a bad Hurricanes team way too many chances.
-It wasn't a completely awful period. We like what the third line of Bennett, Spaling and Downie have done. They've created some offensive zone pressure.
-The Penguins lead in shots on net, 14-7.
-The Penguins lead in attempted shots, 23-18.
-Sutter, Comeau, Crosby and Skinner each lead the game with two shots.
-Letang leads the game with 9:28 of ice time.
-Faulk leads the Hurricanes with 8:10 of ice time.
-The Penguins have an 11-10 edge in faceoffs (52 percent).
-Crosby is 6 for 11 (55 percent).
-Jordan Staal is 4 for 8 (50 percent).
-No one has more than one blocked shot.
-An EN reader spotted Jaromir Jagr, Darius Kasparaitis and Kevin Stevens fans:
20:00: We'll see 54 seconds of four-on-four play to star the period.
19:34: On a delayed penalty, Crosby slides a pass from the center point to Perron low to the left of the cage. Perron rips a wrister. Ward calmly slides ot his right and eats up the shot. Jordan Staal is called for hooking after stuck his stick on Crosby's right arm at the Carolina blue line. The Penguins will hget 28 seconds of a four-on-three. Crosby, Kunitz, Perron and Letang take the ice.
19:14: Letang whacks a slapper from above the left circle. Ward smothers it despite a screen by Kunitz.
18:48: After a brief four-on-four situation, play moves to a five-on-four power play for the penguins.
18:37: Crosby whacks a one-timer from the right point but his stick breaks.
18:01: After a weak turnover by Kunitz in the offensive zone, Rask pushes a puck up the left wing slowly in order to allow his team to get a change. He
17:45: Martin fires a strange shot/pass off the right half wall. Bennett inadvertently re-directs it on net from the right circle. It hits off the skate of Liles and Ward smothers.
17:37: Cole booms a slapper fro the left point. It hits off the end boards and Hainsey clears the rebound down ice to kill off the rest of the power play.
16:58: Gerbe spins off a check on the right wing and directs a shot towards the net. It hits off a stick and deflects out of play.
16:32: Spaling backhands a puck from the right circle. Ward steers it away.
16:19: Lapierre lifts a wrister from the right circle which appears to glance off Ward's glove and bounces high.
16:08: Skinner booms a slapper from the left wing over the cage.
15:12: Cam Ward refuses to give up a gaol. Falk tries to skate a puck away from Winnik in Carolina's right circle but Winnik pokes it off his stick. WInnik recovers the puck low in the circle and backhands a puck to Letang above the crease. Letang whacks puck on net. Ward reads the play all the way, slides to his right and knocks the puck dead before smothering. Another tremendous save.
15:01: Kunitz digs a puck free in the right wing corner and deals a pass to Sutter at the high slot. Sutter leans down and fans on the shot sending it wide.
13:47: Lindholm chops a puck from the right wing. Pouliot deflects it out of play.
13:05: Off some strong work down low, Eric Staal deals a pass to Gerbe int he slot. Gerbe chops a shot which hits off a body and deflects wide.
12:03: Nestrasil uses Cole as a screen and snaps off a wrister which Fleury eats up.
10:55: After a turnover by Bennett above the Penguins' left circle, Jordan Staal lifts a wrister which Fleury fights off with his blocker.
10:37: After some strong work on the right half wall of the Carolina zone by Downie and Bennett, Crosby backhands a pass from the right corner to Martin to the left of the cage. Martin taps a shot wide of the cage.
10:02: Gerbe feeds a pass from beind the net to Jordan Staal in the left circle. Staal chops the puck into the crease where Riley Nash appears to re-direct it off a post.
9:10: Another big save by Ward. Taking advantage of a Carolina line change, Cole snaps off a stretch pass to Sutter who races up the left wing and snaps off a low wrister. Ward kicks it out.
8:23: The Hurricanes take a two-goal lead. Faulk races through the neutral zone and gains the offensive zone. He leaves a pass for Malone at the left point. Malone snaps off a pass for McClement above the left circle. McClement takes the pass in stride and rips a wrister by Fleury's blocker on the far side. The Penguins allowed the Hurricanes too much speed and space to work with. Kunitz looked like he was laboring to keep up with Faulk then was slow to react to Malone. Malone and Faulk get assists. Hurricanes 3-1.
8:10: A wrister by Murphy is eaten up by Fleury.
7:12: McClement is rattled behind the Carolina net by Kunitz.
5:57: Gerbe snaps off a wrister from the right wing. Flery steers it away.
5:14: Defense lead to offense. Letang has a wrister from above the left Carolina circle blocked by Faulk. Faulk is able to settle the puck and feed sit to Nash who pushes it up ice on a three-on-two rush with Letang pinned deep. Nash is able to feed a pass to Eric Staal on the left wing. Staal deals it back to Nash in the left circle. With Perron back in place of Letang, Nash is able to sneak a backhanded pass through the crease to Semin on the backdoor and Semin taps in the easy goal. The Hurricanes chewed right through the Penguins' defense there. Nash and Staal get assists. Hurricanes 4-1.
3:57: A slapper by Pouliot from the left wing is eaten up by Ward.
2:30: Spaling whips a pass from the left wing corner to the front of the crease. Bennett is there but a poke check by Ward breaks up the play.
1:57: Eric Staal directs a pass from the right wing on net. Fleury punches it away.
0:29: Letang lifts a wrister from the right wing corner. Ward snags it.
0:06: Jordan Staal whips a wrister which Fleury denies.
0:00: End of period. Hurricanes 4, Penguins 1.
-The Penguins just look defeated. The injuries, the roster situation, their body language. They just look like they're resigned to their fate int his game.
-Cam Ward is stealing goal and they're missing their fair share of quality chance. That's usually a pretty lethal combination.
-Oddly, we think this might be Lapierre's best game since joining the Penguins. He's drawn a penalty and been involved in a few quality chances.
-Fleury has been fine. He doesn't have any help.
-The Penguins have a 23-15 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have a 37-29 lead in attempted shots.
-Letang leads the game with four blocked shots.
-Murphy, Skinner and Jordan Staal each lead the Hurricanes with two shots.
-Letang leads the game with 17:36 of ice time.
-Faulk leads the Hurricanes with 16:58 of ice time.
-The Hurricanes have a 23-22 lead in faceoffs (51 percent).
-McClement is 6 for 11 (55 percent).
-Crosby is 10 for 21 (48 percent).
-Downie and Pouliot each lead the game with two blocked shots.
20:00: It looks like Perron is starting the period on a line with Kunitz and Sutter.
19:43: Semin fires a spinning wrister from the right circle. Fleury fights it off.
19:10: Letang appears to get away with a trip on Semin at the Penguins' right point.
18:54: The Hurricane have a chance to bust it wide open as Eric Staal takes a pas at the Penguins blue line, motors in and whacks a slapper over the cage. That wasn't a great shot selection.
17:45: COmeau is out with Crosby and Winnik.
17:32: Skinner limps off the ice after falling in the Penguins' zone on the left wing. He heads down the runway to the dressing room.
17:14: After a hideous turnover by Letang, Nestrasil whips a wrister from the left circle wide of the cage.
17:01: The Hurricanes get a power play after Sapling high sticks Biega in the neutral zone. Lapierre, Adams, Martin and Letang take the ice.
16:56: After a faceoff win in the Penguins' left circle, Faulk booms a slapper from the left point. Fleury spot it through traffic and makes a glove save
16:49: Fleury is keeping his team in this. Off the ensuing facoeff int he Penguins left ozne, Eric Staal backhands a puck from the slot. Fleury saves. Nestrasil chops at it. Fleury save. Then Eric Staal chops at it again. Another Fleury save. Wow.
15:01: The Penguins kill off the rest of Spaling's minor. They dodged one there.
14:13: Another tough save by Fleury. Gerbe backhand taps a pass off the right wing by Lovejoy to Eric Staal in the slot. Staal taps it on net with a forehand shot. Fleury punches it away with his blocker.
12:44: Perron's struggles continue. Letang steals a puck off Chris Terry at the Hurricanes' right point, pushes it deep into the right circle and deals to Perron in the high slot. Perron has a clean look at the cage and rips a wrister but it goes wide and deflects out of play. Perron slams his stick on the ice in frustration.
12:38: Off the ensuing faceoff win in the Hurricanes' left circle, Letang chops a slapper off the left half wall. Ward eats it up.
12:06: Martin chucks a puck from the center poitn wide to the left of the cage. It hits off the end boards. Crosby corrals it to the right of the cage, spins and whips a shot which Ward fends off.
11:25: Gerbe is small:
10:15: Skinner has returned to the ice.
9:58: Letang chops a puck from the right half wall. Comeau is in the slot an re-directs it on net. Ward fights it off. Crosby directs the rebound from the right of the net back into the crease. Comeau has another chance from the slot but Ward smothers it. He is just not going to allow another goal.
9:26: Taking a feed from Martin, Comeau moves with the puck to the left circle and attempts to backhand it back to Martin to the right of the cage. Their timing is off and Martin fails to get a true shot off.
8:55: Spaling deals a pass from the left half wall to Lapierre in the left circle. Lapierre lifts a backhander which is wide of the cage.
7:45: Beau Bennett gains the offensive zone on the left wing and whips a wrister wide to the far side.
7:12: On a delayed penalty, Lindholm has wrister from the left circle is blocked by Lovejoy. Perron is called for cross checking after he battled Michal Jordan in the Hurricane's left wing corner. Lapierre, Winnik, Scuderi and Letang take the ice.
7:05: After Lapierre appears to get away with playing a puck with his glove hand. Rask booms a slapper from the right point. Fleury kicks it out.
6:46: Game. Set. Match. Lindholm controls the puck on the right half wall, moves into the right circle and taps a pass to Eric Staal in the slot. Staal then taps it to Nestrasil to the right of the cage and Nestrasill is able to chop the puck by Fleury's glove. Bing. Bang. Boom. Staal and Lindholm get assists. Hurricanes 5-1.
5:38: Taking a feed from Comeau, Crosby lifts a wrister from the right circle wide to the far side.
4:05: The Penguins salvage something out of this. After Bennett steal a puck off Skinner at the Hurricanes' left point, Adams recovers it in the neutral zone, gains the blue line and backhands a pass to Cole at the right point. As Dams drive to the cage, Cole moves to the right half wall and rips a wrister by Cole's glove hand. An impressive play by all involved. It's Cole's first goal with the Penguins. Adams and Bennett get assists. Hurricanes 5-2.
3:33: Fleury isn't giving up. After a defensive zone turnover by Crosby, Gerbe backhands a pass from the high slot to Jordan Staal in the left circle. He rushes the net and deals a pass to Eric Staal to the right of the net. Eric chops the puck into the seemingly wide open net but Fleury stretches to his left and kicks the puck out. Wow.
2:33: Perron lifts a wrister from the left wing. Ward steers it away.
2:19: After Murphy is careless with a dump-in by the Penguins in his own left wing corner, Bennett steals the puck on the left half wall and motors into the slot. He rips a wrister wide of the cage.
2:10: Bennett is called for high sticking Jordan while battling for the rebound. Lapierre, Spaling, Lovejoy and Cole take the ice.
1:20: A wrister by Nestrasil from the left circle deflects out of play.
0:32: Liles rips a wrister from the left half wall. Fleury fights it off.
0:20: SKinner booms a one-timer from the right half wall. Fleury says no.
0:14: Jordan Staal tries to jam one in from the right of the cage. Fleury fights it off.
0:00: End of game. Hurricanes 5, Penguins 2.
"There's not enough desperation for the importance of these games, especially when you're missing guys. We all need to dig down better and be a little better. We can't accept an effort like this against team that's out of the playoffs."
-Those were the words of Sidney Crosby following the game. He generally pretty even keeled in his dealings with the media. He doesn't get too excited in a negative or a positive sense. Watching his postgame media scrum, he looked like he was annoyed by the question and gave a pretty direct answer. Regardless, he's spot on. This was inexcusable.
-The Penguins played this game with all the urgency of a team which expected to win by going through the motions. The Hurricanes stink and the Penguins played like they expected an easy win. The Hurricanes, despite their woeful place in the standings, gave an honest effort and took it to the Penguins. The Penguins didn't seem to react well to the Hurricanes' effort and crumpled.
-The injuries certainly are a difficult thing to deal with. When you can't even dress a full lineup, that's just awful. But the Penguins still should have had enough firepower to overcome this team.
-The Penguins certainly did generate their fair share of quality offensive chances. But a combination of great play by Cam Ward, poor accuracy and bad luck proved lethal.
-Cam Ward was outstanding. He stole some goals. We can't recall him looking this good in quite some time.
-Accuracy was an issue too however. Paul Martin, Steve Downie and others each misfired on some point-blank chances at crucial situations.
-And the Penguins weren't getting lucky. When Chris Kunitz finally beats a goaltender but has the puck get stuck in the net apron, things just aren't going your way.
-Special teams killed the Penguins. They got three power-play chances and were blanked. Then their normally sturdy penalty kill allowed on goal.
-Marc-Andre Fleury was not the problem. He stole a lot of goals too. He deserve better.
-There were a few positive signs out of this game. The makeshift third line of Beau Bennett, Nick Spaling and Downie seemed to have some things going. They may have been the Penguins' best line in this game.
-Bennett may have had this best game of the season. Yes, the bar isn't very high for that distinction, but he was very engaged in the play, he was aggressive on pucks, won puck battles and helped initiate some offensive attack.
-Maxime Lapierre may have had his best game since joining the Penguins. He seemed to try to agitate some of the Hurricanes. Additionally, he got involved with the offense a bit and even drew a penalty.
-Rob Scuderi looks really worn down. As good as he looked the first three or four months of the season, he looks exhausted now. We know they don't have the luxury of extra bodies right now, but he could benefit from an occasional healthy scratch.
-David Perron is snake bit right now. Goal-scorers are usually fairly streaky and that appears to be what he's going through right now. For the second consecutive game, he had a goal denied on a dazzling glove save. Beyond that, he almost looks like he's gripping the stick too tight. He's flat out missing the net on several quality scoring chances.
-The Staal brothers look like they've been playing together all their lives ... wait... The had a really good game together. Jordan Staal just bulled his way around the Penguins' defense with the puck while Eric Staal kept finding a soft open areas to damage with. And their linemate Nathan Gerbe seems like a perfect companion to them.
-Even the Hurricanes' fourth line of Brad Malone, Jay McClement and Andrej Nestrasil ripped them up. The Penguins wish their fourth line could have half as good of a game as that.
-Even a dud like Alexander Semin showed some signs of life.
-The Penguins led in shots on net, 29-28.
-The Penguins led in attempted shots, 53-51.
-Kris Letang and Eric Staal each led the game with five shots.
-Letang led the game with 25:38 of ice time.
-Justin Faulk led the Hurricanes with 24:44 of ice time.
-The Hurricanes had a 33-31 edge in faceoffs (52 percent).
-Victor Rask was 5 for 7 (71 percent).
-Spaling was 5 for 8 (63 percent).
-Letang led the game with three blocked shots.
-Eric Staal and Faulk each led the Hurricanes with two blocked shots.
-Ian Cole became the 385th player to score a regular season goal against the Penguins.
-Eric Staal keeps ripping up the Penguins. He know has 44 points in 42 career games against them.
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A preview of the Hurricanes.
When and where: 7 p.m., EDT, Raleigh Entertainment & Sports ArenaRBC Center PNC Arena.
TV: Root Sports, Fox Sports Carolina.
Record: 26-36-10, 62 points. The Hurricanes are in last in the Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division.
Leading Scorer: Defenseman Justin Faulk, 45 points (14 goals, 31 assists).
Last Game: 3-1 home loss to the Blackhawks Monday. Goaltender Anton Khudobin made 22 saves for the Hurricanes.
Last Game against the Penguins: 2-1 road loss Dec. 31. Goaltender Cam Ward (right) made 37 saves for the Hurricanes.
Hurricanes Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Center Eric Staal. He has 41 points in 41 career games against the Penguins.
Ex-Penguins on the Hurricanes: General manager Ron Francis, center Jordan Staal, C, president Don Waddell.
Ex-Hurricanes on the Penguins: Right winger Craig Adams, vice president of hockey operations Jason Karmanos, general manager Jim Rutherford, player development coach Mark Recchi, center Brandon Sutter.
Useless Hurricanes/Whalers Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Ward (1,317) has allowed the most goals in Hurricanes/Whalers history. Former Penguins goaltender Greg Millen (919) has allowed the second most.
The last time the Penguins played the Hurricanes, this happened:
Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (32-16-8, 2.22 GAA, .923 SV%) for the Penguins. Cam Ward (18-21-5, 2.44 GAA, .910 SV%) for the Hurricanes.
Injuries: For the Penguins, defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (undisclosed), right winger Patric Hornqvist (undisclosed) and center Evgeni Malkin ("lower body") are out. Right winger Pascal Dupuis (blood clot) and defenseman Olli Maatta (shoulder) are on injured reserve. For the Hurricanes, defensemen Jack Hillen (concussion) and defenseman Rasmus Rissanen (knee) are out.
Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins' had an optional skate. Head coach Mike Johnston said they would be using only 11 forward and six defensemen tonight. Consider this a guess:
26 Daniel Winnik -87 Sidney Crosby - 39 David Perron
14 Chris Kunitz -16 Brandon Sutter - 17 Blake Comeau
19 Beau Bennett - 13 Nick Spaling - 23 Steve Downie
40 Maxim Lapierre - 27 Craig Adams
7 Paul Martin - 58 Kris Letang
51 Derrick Pouliot - 12 Ben Lovejoy
4 Rob Scuderi - 28 Ian Cole
-The Hurricanes primary lines and defensive pairings at today's morning skate were:
12 Eric Staal - 11 Jordan Staal - 14 Nathan Gerbe
53 Jeff Skinner - 49 Victor Rask - 16 Elias Lindholm
25 Chris Terry - 20 Riley Nash - 28 Alexander Semin
24 Brad Malone - 18 Jay McClement - 15 Andrej Nestrasil
27 Justin Faulk - 65 Ron Hainsey
47 Michal Jordan - 7 Ryan Murphy
41 Danny Biega - 26 John-Michael Liles
-The Penguins will play with only 19 players tonight due to their limit salary cap space. While an official total isn't available, it is believed the Penguins have less than $100,000 of available salary cap space, far less than a league-minimum contract at the NHL level ($550,000). The NHL-NHLPA collective bargaining agreement allows teams facing a salary cap crunch to make an emergency recall in an event such as this but only after the team has submitted a lineup of less than 20 players.
-The Penguins played Saturday's game in Arizona with only 19 players as Ehrhoff was injured but he was officially listed in the lineup. That does not count as the one game the Penguins must play with less than 20 players.
-The Penguins could place Ehrhoff, Hornqvist and Malkin on long-term injured reserve to momentarily clear salary cap room but they would need to remain on LTIR for 10 NHL regular season games and 24 calendar days.
-Defenseman Rob Scuderi has 98 career points.
-Center Sidney Crosby has 298 career goals.
-The referees are Jean Hebert (No. 15) and Tom Kowal (No. 32). The linesmen are Kiel Murchison (No. 79) and Darren Gibbs (No. 66).
-Our live blog, direct from our couch, starts at approximately 6:45 p.m. Please tune in.
(Photo: Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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