Skinner, others return for Canes vs. Penguins
Posted February 28, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — A sell-out crowd and multiple story lines bring a highly anticipated match-up to the PNC Arena Thursday between the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Hurricanes will get four key players back from injury and welcome the first meeting between Penguins Brandon Sutter and Hurricanes Jordan Staal.
Jeff Skinner, Tim Gleason, Tim Brent and Jamie McBain will all make their return in the 7 p.m. contest. The game will be broadcast in the Triangle on 99.9 FM The Fan ESPN Radio and on Fox Sports Carolinas.
All four, along with teammate Joni Pitkanen skated Thursday in practice. Pitkanen, on injured reserve since Feb. 12 with a lower body injury, will not return to face the Pens.
Skinner who has been day-to-day with a concussion missed the past five games. Prior to his injury the forward had 14 points on the season with seven goals and seven assists. Forward Tim Brent also missed five games with a lower body injury. Defensemen Gleason, sidelined with a lower body injury, and McBain, who sat with an upper body injury, have missed six and four games respectively.
The addition of those four will add to the already hightened match-up against the Penguins due to a big off-season trade. Last June, former Hurricanes center Brandon Sutter was traded for Pittsburgh center Jordan Staal. Thursday's game will be the first time the two have faced their former teams since the trade.
Sutter, who played four seasons for the Hurricanes and served as an alternate captain, has four goals and four assists for the Penguins this season. Staal has been slightly more productive in the points column with four goals and 11 assists.
The Hurricanes, who are riding a 1-4 record the past five games, are looking to rebound from an injury riddled lull in their season. Captain Eric Staal said the team really wants to get the win for Jordan and get one step closer to the Penguins who sit second, just ahead of the Canes, in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Canes have a tough game ahead of them against a team who fairs well on the road. The Penguins are 8-3 on 12 road games this season and with a 3-4 home record the Hurricanes have not excelled at defending their home ice.
Pittsburgh will be without reigning MVP Evengi Malkin. Since Malkin joined the Pens in the 2006-07 season the team has gone 36-25-6 without the center in the lineup. This season Malkin has contributed four goals and 17 assists with a plus/minus of -4. But the team is no stranger to playing without one of their stars, and they still have their captain Sidney Crosby for the Canes to focus on.
Crosby is currently tied with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos for the NHL scoring lead with 30 points. The center leads the league with 21 assists and has a history of good play against the Canes. In the PNC Arena Crosby has tallied 12 points and has notched points in six straight games against the Canes.