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Thursday, March 11th (All times eastern)

Pittsburgh Penguins (40-22-4) at Carolina Hurricanes (27-31-8), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to stay perfect since returning from the Olympic break when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at RBC Center.

The Penguins are 4-0 since the league came back from the Winter Games. The surge has helped Pittsburgh stay atop the Atlantic Division, which it leads by three points over New Jersey.

Pittsburgh is playing its first game since beating visiting Boston on Sunday. Evgeni Malkin scored early in the third period to lift the Penguins to the 2-1 victory at Mellon Arena.

Pascal Dupuis also tallied for the Penguins and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves.

However, the game will be most remembered for a blindside hit by Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke on Boston star forward Marc Savard. Cooke caught an unsuspecting Savard in the head with a shoulder moments after he released a shot from the high slot.

Savard lay motionless for several minutes while being attended to by the medical staff. He was eventually taken off the ice on a stretcher. No penalty was called on the play and the league announced Wednesday that Cooke would not be suspended.

However, partially as a result of the Cooke hit, the NHL proposed a rule change that would penalize a "blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted." The potential ban was revealed Wednesday at the conclusion of the NHL GM meetings in Boca Raton.

The Pens are kicking off a five-game road trip tonight. Pittsburgh is 19-12-1 as the visiting team this season, matching Washington for the most road wins in the conference.

Carolina is coming off Wednesday's close loss in Washington. Tomas Fleischmann scored with 1:40 remaining in overtime to lift the Capitals to a 4-3 victory over the Hurricanes at Verizon Center.

In the extra session, Fleischmann hammered a Eric Belanger feed past Carolina goaltender Manny Legace, who made 35 saves in a losing effort.

Jussi Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu and Patrick Dwyer each tallied for the Hurricanes, who have dropped two of their last three games after winning seven straight.

"I thought we got better as the game went on," said Carolina head coach Paul Maurice. "We're trying to get as many points as we can. You can't walk away now without any."

The Hurricanes are now eight points behind Boston for the final playoff spot.

Tonight marks the start of a four-game homestand for the 'Canes, who have won seven straight on home ice. Carolina is 17-12-3 as the host this year.

Pittsburgh has split a pair of games with the Hurricanes this year and has taken five of nine overall in the series. The Pens have two wins in their last three trips to Raleigh, but have also lost five of their last seven on the road against Carolina.

03/11 11:01:09 ET


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