The end of the season cannot come soon enough for Carolina and Pittsburgh.
The Hurricanes attempt to end an eight-game winless streak as they visit the equally hapless Penguins at Mellon Arena.
One year after reaching the Stanley Cup finals, Carolina has the fewest points in the NHL. The Hurricanes are 0-6-2 over their last eight games.
Pittsburgh has just one win in its last 19 games, and is only two points ahead of Carolina. The Penguins are winless in 10 games at home (0-9-1), one short of the club record.
The Penguins offense continued its struggles even with Mario Lemieux back in the lineup. Lemieux returned after sitting out two games with back spasms but was held without a goal for the eighth straight game.
“Right now, we’re just trying to play the best we can—that’s all we can do right now,” Lemieux said.
Carolina has its own scoring problems. The Hurricanes have totaled two goals during the last three games.
Montreal goaltender Mathieu Garon stopped all 33 of Carolina’s shots as the Canadiens blanked the Hurricanes 4-0 on Monday.
Carolina also lost its 40th game—a first for the franchise since 1997-98, the club’s initial season in North Carolina following a move from Hartford, Conn.
“The biggest thing at this point of the season isn’t the product, it’s the process,” Carolina defenseman Sean Hill said. “It’s about playing the right way and setting good examples for guys and getting into good habits. We’re not doing that and it shows.”
After the Penguins game, the Hurricanes play the Panthers and Islanders to close out the season. Pittsburgh finishes up at Washington on Saturday.
STANDINGS (through March 31): Hurricanes - 61 points, 5th place, 30 PB, Southeast Division. Penguins - 63 points, 5th place, 40 PB, Atlantic Division.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 31): Hurricanes - Power play: 14.3 percent (58 for 406), 22nd (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.6 percent (211 for 281), 25th. Penguins - Power play: 18.5 percent (65 for 352), 6th. Penalty killing: 83.2 percent (288 for 346), 13th (tied).
SEASON SERIES: Hurricanes, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: March 6; Hurricanes, 4-0. At Pittsburgh, O’Neill scored Carolina’s first two goals and the Hurricanes ended a two-month road winless streak by beating the reeling Penguins. Pittsburgh lost its seventh straight, and fourth in a row at home.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 10-24-2-3 on the road; Penguins - 14-22-2-2 at home.