Penguins—Hurricanes Preview: It Is Hurricane Season In Carolina

Mike ThiessenContributor IApril 4, 2009

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 23: Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates with the puck as Patrick Eaves #44 and Joni Pitkanen #25 of the Carolina Hurricanes defend on October 23, 2008 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

It is Hurricane season in Carolina. The home team has won 10 home games in a row and eight straight overall heading into tonight's match-up against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins, meanwhile, have also been on a tear. They are 15-2-3 since Dan Bylsma took over as head coach in February.  It is a match-up between the two hottest teams in the NHL right now.

This is a game that will have major impact on the playoff standings in the Eastern Conference. There is a log-jam of teams fighting for first round home-ice advantage with four teams from fourth place to seventh all within four points of each other.

Currently, Carolina has 93 points and is in fifth place while the Pens are only one point behind and have a game in hand. The Philadelphia Flyers meanwhile are currently sitting in fourth place with 94 points and the Montreal is in seventh place with 90 points.

Sidney Crosby is currently on a 16 game point scoring streak during which he has nine goals and 18 assists. He has had some success against the Hurricanes earlier this year with one goal and sixth assists in three games against the 'Canes.

The Penguins hold the edge in the season series by winning two games decidedly early in the season by scores of 4-1 and 5-2, but Carolina won the last game these teams met at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh on January 20, 2-1.

This is the Penguins first game on the road after a franchise record eight game home-stand, where they went 6-1-1. They will be playing in Florida tomorrow in another game with huge playoff implications.

After tonight's home game the Hurricanes will have two days off before playing again at home against the lowly New York Islanders.