Scoring first doesn’t necessarily mean having a strong start, captain Sidney Crosby said.
It seems like an appropriate idea with back-to-back games against Carolina starting tonight.
The Penguins have scored first in 17 of 21 games so far, and they’re 12-3-2 in those games. They’ve scored first in eight of 10 homes, and their 30 goals in the opening period are more than anyone else – even the Lightning (27), who’ve played two fewer games.
But, in Crosby’s mind, a strong start doesn’t equal scoring first. The Penguins didn’t have particular strong first periods during a home-and-home with the Islanders, Crosby said, and that needs to change.
“You look back to that two-game series, our first periods were not good,” Crosby said. “Just making sure we start the right way, no matter what the score ends up, just make sure that our mentality and focus are there.
“It’s nice if you can get that first one, but you have to make sure if you do get it, you’re playing the right way. Then (you have to) maintain that same level of play the rest of the game.”
Which, on paper anyway, doesn’t figure to be too terribly hard. The Hurricanes make their first visit to Consol Energy Center with a record of 6-12-3. Their leading scorer, Riley Nash, has less than half as many points as Crosby, and they’ve lost six of their past seven.
“Every team in this league is really, really good,” forward Patric Hornqvist said. “We need to come focused and do our thing. If we do that, we know we have a good chance to win here tonight.”
News out of the skate: Marc-Andre Fleury will start in goal. … Other than that, not much. … Beau Bennett did not skate today.
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About the Hurricanes: Hurricanes are coming off a 1-0 defeat at Florida on Wednesday. … Forward Alexander Semin is one point away from 500 for his career. … Signed to a five-year, $35-million by Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford while he was in Carolina, Semin has no goals and five assists this season. … Former Penguin Jordan Staal has a broken fibula, which he suffered Sept. 23 at Buffalo, and will be out at least another month. … Carolina’s penalty kill is decent; it ranks 13th at 82 percent and has gone 14 for 15 over the past seven games. … Nash leads in points with 15. Jiri Tlusty leads in goals with eight.
The series: Penguins won the 2013-14 season series, 3-1. Pittsburgh has won five of six and eight of 10 against Carolina. … Penguins have 10 wins in November, one shy of tying a team record (1995, 2010). … Hurricanes have the NHL’s worst road record at 2-9-2. … Crosby has an 11-game points streak against Carolina, which dates back to Dec. 7, 2009.
Up next: Penguins at Hurricanes, Saturday, 7 p.m.