Jordan Staal sees bright future in Carolina

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Clearly, Jordan Staal wanted to join his oldest brother, Eric, with Carolina. He got that wish when the Penguins traded him to the Hurricanes last summer.

Just as clearly, Jordan Staal hoped to enjoy the kind of success with his new club that he had with the Penguins, which included a minimum of making the playoffs each of his six seasons here.

It didn't work out that way. Carolina was well out of the playoffs before it played its season finale Saturday night against the Penguins -- Staal's first game back at Consol Energy Center since the trade.

"It was kind of a tough season," Staal said of the 42 points in 47 games the Hurricanes had before he faced his former club. He had 10 goals, 30 points.

Staal got a loud standing ovation when the Penguins showed a tribute to him during the first TV timeout.

"I had a lot of good memories here," Staal said. "It was a lot of fun playing here."

Carolina's season was gutted by a knee injury to No. 1 goaltender Cam Ward, who didn't play after March 3.

Staal has high hopes for the coming seasons.

"We're still a young team that's building," he said. "We really do believe in this core group, that it can be a playoff team and a contender."

Eric Staal is the team captain and leading scorer for Carolina, and he and Jordan have been joined by youngest brother Jared, who was recalled from the American Hockey League last week and played in his second NHL game Saturday.

Their other brother, Marc, is a defenseman for the New York Rangers. The four grew up playing hockey in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

"It's been a lot of fun," Jordan said of playing with one or two brothers in the NHL. "Every once in a while, you pinch yourself when you see your brother line up with you in this league. It's a pretty special thing."

From pucks to diapers

Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury didn't get a lot of sleep Thursday or Friday night, but he was running on adrenaline and ready to start the game against Carolina.

The reason: Estelle Fleury was born at 2:21 Friday afternoon, Marc-Andre and Veronique's first child.

"We were waiting for her for a while, so it's nice," said Fleury, who skipped a trip to Ottawa for a game Monday and had been on call for several days. He said his wife showed signs of going into labor when he returned home late Thursday after a game at New Jersey.

The arrival means there should not be any conflicts for Fleury with the playoffs coming next week.

"Good timing," he said.

Asked if Estelle is cute, Fleury said, "Yeah. She doesn't have my teeth yet."

Asked if he had changed any diapers, Fleury said, "I did Friday. First one was interesting."

Unusual side effect

Penguins center Sidney Crosby is awaiting word from doctors on whether he will be cleared to play in the team's playoff opener. That has to do with the healing in his jaw, which was broken March 30 when he was struck by a puck.

Crosby, who had two root canals Thursday, faces more dental work.

"I need a couple more root canals, but that's not something that's that urgent," he said.

Crosby had several teeth knocked out or damaged. The resulting dental work doesn't figure into when he might return, but it has helped in one respect: Before the root canals Thursday, he experienced cold sensitivity from the icy air when he skated.

"I felt it," he said. "I wouldn't say it was a problem. It wasn't comfortable."

Tip-ins

Crosby did double duty Saturday. He skated early, then joined his teammates for an optional game-day skate. In the early session, he was joined by injured center Joe Vitale, rookie goaltender Eric Hartzell, conditioning coach Mike Kadar and Austin Lemieux, the teen son of Penguins owner and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux. ... Vitale and defenseman Brooks Orpik (both undisclosed injuries) did not play against Carolina and remain day-to-day, according to coach Dan Bylsma.

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For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 or Twitter @pgshelly


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