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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Thursday, February 14th (All times eastern)

Pittsburgh Penguins (32-20-5) at Carolina Hurricanes (28-27-4), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to get back on the right track tonight, when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes for a matchup at the RBC Center.

The Penguins had won three straight games before getting dealt a close loss Wednesday against visiting Boston. Tim Thomas stopped 20 shots and the Bruins clung to a pair of first-period goals to clip Pittsburgh, 2-1, at Mellon Arena.

Evgeni Malkin notched his 32rd goal of the season for the Penguins, while Ty Conklin took the loss despite stopping 31-of-33 shots.

Pittsburgh has 69 points and is just one ahead of New Jersey for the lead in the Atlantic Division. The Pens are also just four points behind Ottawa for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Both the Devils and the Senators are off tonight.

Wednesday's game capped a four-game homestand for the Penguins and now they'll play two straight on the road. Pittsburgh, which will also visit Buffalo on Sunday, is 15-10-2 as the visiting team and has dropped three of its last four tests away from the Steel City.

Meanwhile, Carolina has won two of its last three contests and is coming off a close victory over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. Andrew Ladd's pair of goals helped the Hurricanes withstand a late Bruins charge for the 3-2 decision at TD Banknorth Garden.

Sergei Samsonov had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes, while Rod Brind'Amour added a pair of helpers. Cam Ward stopped 32 shots to record his 23rd win of the year.

The win moved Carolina into first place in the Southeast Division, but Atlanta beat Washington in a shootout on Wednesday to forge a three-way tie for the top spot. The Hurricanes, Thrashers and Capitals all have 60 points, but Carolina can gain ground on idle Washington and Atlanta tonight.

Beginning with tonight's contest, the Hurricanes will play eight of their next nine games at home. Carolina is 13-11-2 as the host club this year and has won three of its last four home tilts.

Pittsburgh is 2-1 against the Hurricanes this season, but Carolina has taken five of eight and seven of the last 11 encounters. The Pens have dropped three straight and six of seven in Raleigh.

02/14 10:29:12 ET

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