Penguins-Hurricanes Preview

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ winning streak and Sidney Crosby’s

point streak came to an end in their latest game, but both team and

captain still have good runs going against the Carolina

Hurricanes.

Crosby has recorded a point in nine straight games against the

Hurricanes, and he’ll hope to see the injury-riddled Penguins get

some reinforcements back Friday night in Raleigh as they go for a

fifth consecutive win versus Carolina.

Pittsburgh (27-11-1) had won a season-high seven in a row before

Monday’s 5-0 loss at Ottawa to open a four-game road trip.

“I think we knew we weren’t going to win every game until the

end, but every time you lose it’s frustrating, especially when it’s

5-0,” goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said.

That was the end of Crosby’s 10-game point streak, during which

he recorded seven goals and 11 assists, though that was the least

of the Penguins’ concerns. Crosby briefly left after a first-period

collision with linemate Pascal Dupuis that he said “almost blew my

knee out,” but Dupuis wasn’t as lucky. The winger was helped off

and Pittsburgh announced Friday that he’ll have ACL surgery and

likely miss the rest of the season.

“There’s a lot that he brings,” coach Dan Bylsma told the team’s

official website. “He’s also a big part of that dressing room. That

is part of what we’ll miss from Pascal.”

Dupuis joins a long list of injured Penguins that includes

forwards Evgeni Malkin, Beau Bennett, Andrew Ebbett, Tanner Glass

and Jayson Megna and defensemen Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Brooks

Orpik and Rob Scuderi.

Bylsma’s club will get at least a few players back Friday. Glass

and Orpik are expected to play, defenseman Deryk Engelland is

available to return from a five-game suspension and Scuderi and

Malkin are close to returning.

Carolina (14-15-8) certainly doesn’t want the Penguins to have

any additional help. Pittsburgh has won each of the past four

matchups by multiple goals, outscoring the Hurricanes 21-9.

That includes two meetings this season in which Crosby had two

assists apiece. He’s recorded two goals and 13 assists during his

nine-game series point streak.

Carolina comes back from the Christmas break hoping to again

stop a brief losing streak. The Hurricanes thought they were on

their way to ending a two-game skid Monday, up 3-2 on Columbus with

less than five minutes remaining, but gave up two goals in 1:28 to

lose 4-3 in regulation.

“It felt like we shot ourselves in the foot,” captain Eric Staal

said. “This was a game we had to have. You can’t lose points in

your own building when you’re up by one with 10 minutes left. It’s

frustrating, and guys aren’t happy about it.”

Carolina has dropped six of seven and has blown leads in each of

its three straight losses.

“We’re not a team that’s going to sit back,” said Jeff Skinner,

who has an NHL-high 10 goals since Dec. 3. “When we get the lead,

you’re not going to see us sit back. That’s not our game. At the

same time, we’ve got to make smart plays.”

Skinner has failed to record a point in his last three games

against the Penguins, though he missed a 3-1 home loss Oct. 28 with

an upper-body injury. Staal went scoreless in that matchup after

having two goals and four assists in his previous four versus

Pittsburgh.

Brother Jordan has yet to score a goal in five games against his

former team.

Justin Peters, who has started four of Carolina’s last five

games, is 2-4-1 with a 4.22 goals-against average against the

Penguins.

The Hurricanes will be without Jiri Tlusty for two to three

weeks after the forward underwent an emergency appendectomy

Tuesday. The team filled his spot by recalling forward Zach Boychuk

from Charlotte of the AHL.