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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Friday. October 5th (All times eastern)

Pittsburgh Penguins (0-0-0) at Carolina Hurricanes (0-0-1), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will finally make their season debut this evening, as they travel to the RBC Center to battle the Carolina Hurricanes.

Last season was a breakout campaign for the Penguins and their phenom centerman. Pittsburgh posted 105 points during the regular season and the 20- year-old Crosby walked away with a scoring title (Art Ross Trophy) and both of the NHL's MVP Awards (Hart Trophy & Lester B. Pearson Award).

However, Pittsburgh's first trip to the postseason since 2001 was short-lived as the Penguins were knocked out in the first round by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Ottawa Senators.

Crosby has posted over 100 points in each of his first two seasons in the league and recorded 36 goals and 84 helpers last year.

As if having Crosby wasn't enough, the Penguins can also boast the likes of Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal. Malkin, a 21-year-old Russian, won the Calder Trophy last year as the league's top rookie following a season in which he had 33 goals and added 52 assists. Staal, who is only 19 years of age, also displayed a natural scoring touch in his rookie season by notching 29 goals and 42 points.

The Penguins also have a franchise goaltender in the making in 22-year-old Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Whitney, who is 24 years old and seems to be blossoming into a first-class defenseman.

The combination of skill and youth possessed by the five players mentioned above is a big reason why the Penguins are considered to be a strong contender to win a Stanley Cup someday in the near future.

The Hurricanes played their first game of the season Wednesday at home and were handed an overtime loss. Saku Koivu beat Cam Ward on the power play for his second goal of the game, just over a minute into the extra session, giving the Montreal Canadiens a 3-2 victory over Carolina.

Niclas Wallin was whistled to the penalty box for cross checking 46 seconds into overtime, and the Canadiens made the Hurricanes pay. With 3:55 remaining in the extra session, Michael Ryder found Koivu below the right circle for a shot that sailed over Ward's left shoulder and gave Montreal the road victory.

Bret Hedican and Erik Cole tallied for the Hurricanes, while Ward made 37 saves in taking the tough-luck loss.

Carolina has taken four of five and six of the last eight meetings with the Penguins. Pittsburgh has also dropped two straight and five of its last six games in Raleigh.

10/05 10:32:03 ET

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