Penguins-Hurricanes: Pittsburgh Looks to Weather the Storm of Back-to-Back Games

Matt HunterCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2008

The Penguins went into Madison Square Garden last night with what it seemed to be two whole points, but they ended up leaving and heading to Carolina with only one point, while conceding two to the Rangers—who pulled just a bit farther away from the Penguins with that shoot-out win.

That was a tough game to lose last night, but the Penguins cannot dwell on the loss for long, because they have to face the Carolina Hurricanes tonight in Raleigh.

The Hurricanes are currently holding up the final playoff spot in the East with a 12-11-2 record.  The team is also facing the firing of their head coach Peter Laviolette, who coached the team to their 2006 Stanley Cup victory.

The Hurricanes have replaced Laviolette with Paul Maurice, who must make his coaching debut with his new team against a tough Penguins hockey team.

Pittsburgh is coming off a very disappointing loss last night, and I highly doubt that they will be in the best of moods when the puck drops tonight.

The biggest thing that the Penguins need to work on is the power play.  The Penguins have been struggling with this of late, and need to turn that around quickly.  This is a very important aspect to their game plan and if they are struggling on the man advantage, then they are going to struggle as a whole.

Crosby and Malkin need to get their engines going again tonight.  These two had great weeks last week, and need to put together another good week to help the team out. 

Last night, Malkin looked amazing.  He was flying out on the ice, and the Rangers could do nothing to get the puck off of him (only way they did was when he overskated the puck) and he just used his massive frame to get into the zone.

Crosby looked good as well, with that pretty little move he put on in the third period—coming down one-on-one and doing a little toe drag side step past the defensemen to get a nice backhand on net.

One other aspect the Penguins need to worry about tonight is the goaltending.  I do not know if Fleury will play tonight, but I doubt he will—and I am almost positive that Sabourin will not play either.  This leave new goalie John Curry, who lost his first start with the Penguins to the Buffalo Sabres last week.

This will be the big key to the Pens' victory tonight.  Curry has to play well in order for the Pens to have a shot tonight, and that is a lot to ask out of the number-three goaltender for your team. However, the Penguins defense has been playing great lately and should help Curry out tonight.

The person to watch for the Hurricanes tonight has a brother playing against him and that is Eric Staal.  Eric Staal is the leader of the Hurricanes, and is also a goal scorer.  If the Penguins do not watch out they could be hearing the wrong Staal being announced for a goal.

I do not think the Penguins will have a tough time tonight against goaltender Cam Ward.  Ward has posted an 8-7-2 record with a 2.68 GAA, and a .911 save percentage.  He will give up goals, and if the Penguins can get some powerplays tonight they should be able to capitalize.

Even though the Penguins are playing their second consecutive game, I do like them in this one.  They are going to be pissed off from last night, and are playing against one of the lower teams in the East as well as a goaltender who gives up a few goals a game.