NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, December 4th
(All times eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (14-6-4) at Carolina Hurricanes (12-11-2), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes will begin a second era with Paul
Maurice as their head coach when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at
The Hurricanes announced the coaching change on Wednesday, replacing Peter
Laviolette with his predecessor. Maurice will return to the job he held for
seven full seasons and parts of two others before Laviolette took over 30
games into the 2003-04 campaign. In addition, Ron Francis has been named an
Carolina has lost four of its last five games to fall to 12-11-2 for the
season -- good enough for second place in the Southeast Division. The
Hurricanes, despite a pair of winning records, have failed to reach the
playoffs in each of the last two seasons after winning the Stanley Cup under
Laviolette's watch in the spring of 2006.
Laviolette's final game with the Hurricanes was Sunday's home test against
Anaheim. The Ducks won that one as Rob Niedermayer netted a pair of third-
period goals to lead Anaheim to the 4-1 decision.
Matt Cullen provided the only offense for the Hurricanes. Starting netminder
Cam Ward stopped 12-of-13 shots in the first period before leaving due to a
groin injury. Michael Leighton stepped in and allowed three goals on 14 shots
for the loss.
Ward will sit out tonight and could miss a few games. Justin Peters has been
recalled from the team's AHL affiliate in Albany to serve in a backup role to
Leighton for the time being.
Tonight marks the second test of a four-game homestand for the Hurricanes, who
are 6-7-0 as the host club this season. Carolina has dropped three straight at
the RBC Center.
Pittsburgh is currently second in the Atlantic Division with 32 points, but
has lost two of three and three of its last five games. The Pens visited the
New York Rangers, who hold first place in the division, on Wednesday and were
dealt a shootout loss.
Nikolai Zherdev netted the game-winner in the shootout, as the Rangers edged
Pittsburgh, 3-2, at Madison Square Garden.
After Markus Naslund scored on the opening shot for New York, Miroslav Satan
failed for Pittsburgh. Zherdev beat Dany Sabourin with a high backhander on
the Rangers' second shootout chance, then Pittsburgh's Kris Letang beat Henrik
Fredrik Sjostrom eventually iced the game for the Blueshirts with his wrister.
Mark Eaton and Jordan Staal tallied for the Penguins. Sabourin, who continues
to fill in as Pittsburgh's starter in the absence of the injured Marc-Andre
Fleury, stopped 25 shots in the loss.
The Penguins held a 2-1 lead heading into the third period, but New York would
tie the game and send it to overtime on Petr Prucha's tally with 5:57 left in
Pittsburgh, which has identical 7-3-2 records at home and on the road, is
playing the middle portion of a three-game road trip tonight. The Pens will
cap the swing Saturday in Ottawa.
The Penguins beat the Hurricanes, 4-1, in the first of four meetings between
the clubs on October 23 in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has won three of the last
four encounters overall in the series, but has dropped four in a row and
seven of its previous eight in Raleigh.
12/04 10:47:34 ET