Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes have something to feel good about entering Tuesday night's game in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins have looked sharp defensively in winning their first two games and the Hurricanes bounced back from a disheartening loss for their first victory.
Pittsburgh (2-0-0) strung together 115 minutes, six seconds of shutout hockey to set a franchise record to start a season in a 3-0 win over New Jersey on Thursday and a 4-1 victory against Buffalo on Saturday.
Marc-Andre Fleury, replaced by the now-injured Tomas Vokoun in the playoffs last season, flirted with consecutive shutouts before the Sabres scored late in the third period.
Fleury has stopped 48 of 49 shots thus far, but to coach Dan Bylsma, it's been about more than just his goaltender.
"I like the way our team has played defense," Bylsma said. "When it has been difficult, there have been breakdowns or chances, (Fleury) has been up to the task and has been really solid."
Offensively, Sidney Crosby has goals in two straight games to start a season for the first time since 2009-10. He's never started with goals in three straight.
Evgeni Malkin has scored in his last three versus the Hurricanes to go along with a nine-game point streak against them. Crosby's point streak against them is at seven.
Malkin has one assist this year. He has never gone without a goal in his first three games of a season.
The Hurricanes (1-0-1) have had third-period leads in each of their games, but let a two-goal cushion slip away in Friday's 3-2 overtime loss to Detroit while being outshot 38-25. They held on Sunday, beating Philadelphia 2-1 while posting a 34-18 edge in shots.
"It definitely had the very same feel as the last game," center Jordan Staal said. "It was nice to get a different result with the tough ending to last time. It was nice to have a solid third period and do all the right things to get the win."
Staal had two assists in three games last year against Pittsburgh, his former team, and is looking for his first point of the year. Eric Staal had six points in those same three games but his top line - featuring Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty - has yet to produce a point this season.
"We look at the positive side of it in that we have nice depth right now with the other lines," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller told the team's official website.
Center Jeff Skinner leads the team with three assists.
The Penguins are 5-1-0 in their last six against their new Metropolitan Division rivals. Pittsburgh went 2-1-0 against Carolina last year, winning the only meeting at Consol Energy Center 8-3 behind a hat trick from the currently injured James Neal.
Malkin had a goal and two assists in that game, which Crosby missed with a broken jaw.
Fleury is 5-0-0 with a 2.33 goals-against average in his last five home games against Carolina, while Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward is 5-2-2 with a 1.85 GAA in his last nine regular-season starts versus Pittsburgh.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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