NHL

Hurricanes-Penguins Preview

The Pittsburgh Penguins certainly remember Carl Hagelin's goal that eliminated them from the playoffs last year. They're hoping he can play a big role in eventually getting them back there.

Hagelin makes his debut for the struggling Penguins on Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Hagelin spent his first four NHL seasons with the New York Rangers, who ousted Pittsburgh (20-16-7) from the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. The left wing did the honors himself April 24, scoring in overtime of a 2-1 victory in Game 5.

The Penguins were probably happy to see him get traded to Anaheim over the summer. They're thrilled to take him from the Ducks on Saturday in exchange for David Perron and Adam Clendening.

"It'll be nice to see him practice a little bit, and stop him," goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury told the team's official website in jest. "No, it'll be good though. He's a good player. He's a fast player. He's got some skills. We've seen him play a lot over the years."

That's certainly true for coach Mike Sullivan, who was an assistant with the Rangers during Hagelin's first two seasons.

"He can really skate," Sullivan said. "And he's a real good guy. I think he's going to make us faster. I think he's versatile, he can play up and down the lineup. He's a good penalty killer, and he can bring a lot to the team.

"Right off the bat he brings an element of speed that will bring our team speed to another level."

That didn't happen for Hagelin in an underwhelming stint with the Ducks, scoring four goals with eight assists in 43 games.

He's going to get every chance to do better than that with Sullivan planning to use him on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel.

Malkin leads Pittsburgh with 19 goals and 41 points. The center has 11 points over the past eight games after getting two assists in Friday's 5-4 overtime loss at Tampa Bay.

The Penguins are three points back of the Lightning and Montreal for the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference. They've dropped 13 of their last 19 games (6-8-5), including two defeats to Carolina (20-18-8) after losing 3-2 in overtime Tuesday.

The Hurricanes' four-game winning streak ended with Friday's 3-2 OT defeat to Vancouver.

"I'm glad we got the point," coach Bill Peters said. "I'm glad we stuck with it and were resilient. We were able to find a way to get a point on a night when we didn't play a complete game."

Kris Versteeg has been hot of late, scoring three goals and setting up three others over the past five games. He had a goal and an assist against the Penguins on Tuesday, and Eric Staal matched that.

Staal has nine points in his last seven meetings with Pittsburgh, but he was held off the score sheet in a 2-1 home loss Dec. 19.

The Hurricanes have had a tough time with Sidney Crosby, who has 47 points in 36 career meetings - including the playoffs. He has four assists over the last three matchups, getting two earlier this week.

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