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Hurricanes-Penguins Preview

The Pittsburgh Penguins' explosive offense has been even better at home, while the Carolina Hurricanes are the NHL's worst road team.

It could make for a mismatch when they open their season series Friday night in Pittsburgh.

The Penguins (15-4-2) lead the league with 3.5 goals per game and are averaging 4.0 at home. Their NHL-leading power play has 24 goals on 72 opportunities (33.3) percent) and 14 of those scores have come on 37 chances on their home ice (37.8 percent).

Pittsburgh claimed a 4-3 overtime win at home Wednesday against Toronto as Blake Comeau capped his second career hat trick at the 2:53 mark of the extra period. Evgeni Malkin assisted on two of his scores and accounted for Pittsburgh's other goal.

All eight of Comeau's goals have come in 10 home games.

"I'm getting a good opportunity to play with some really good players and it feels really good to contribute offensively," Comeau said. "Things are going well right now at the start of the season."

Comeau's 13 points are already three shy of last season's total. He has 43 points over his last three seasons after recording a career-high 46 in 2010-11 for the Islanders.

Sidney Crosby recorded two assists to join Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr as the team's only players with 800 points. Crosby, who has a goal and four assists in his last two games after recording two points in his previous six, also has three goals and 14 assists during an 11-game point streak versus Carolina.

Pittsburgh had won eight of nine meetings and five in a row prior to its 4-1 home loss to Carolina on April 1. The Penguins, who have won each of the last seven meetings in which Malkin has played, had scored 25 goals during their five-game series winning streak.

The Hurricanes (6-12-3) have 13 goals during a 1-6-0 stretch and are trying to snap a three-game road skid as they wrap up a five-game trip. Their 2-9-2 road record is the worst in the NHL.

Carolina lost 1-0 at Florida on Wednesday, giving up a goal 21 seconds in. The Hurricanes couldn't beat Roberto Luongo or Al Montoya on 33 shots as Montoya replaced an injured Luongo in the second period.

It marked the third time they've been shut out, bringing them within two of last season's total.

"It wasn't the start we wanted," said Jeff Skinner, who had recorded five points in his previous three games. "To spot a team a goal on the road is tough."

Slow starts have plagued Carolina, which ranks near the bottom of the league with a minus-seven first-period goal differential. Pittsburgh leads the NHL with a plus-15 goal differential in the first 20 minutes.

"I think we were well aware we've been bad in the first (period)," goaltender Cam Ward said. "Unfortunately, we've been on the bad break of the one-goal games. We can't afford to have a lackluster first period like that."

Despite their poor play overall, the Hurricanes have boasted a relatively solid penalty kill on the road, stopping 83.8 percent of opponents' chances. They've given up one goal on 15 power plays during their 1-6-0 stretch overall.

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