Who needs Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin? Apparently not the Pittsburgh Penguins, at least not on Saturday night when they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2 at the Consol Energy Center without benefit of both their stars in the lineup.
The Hurricanes put forth a disappointing offensive effort under the circumstances as they could only muster six shots on goal in the first period and eight in the second.
Special teams let the Canes down as the Pens scored one powerplay goal and one shorthanded, which helped them eventually jump out to a 3-0 lead. The Hurricanes powerplay looked disorganized as they failed to gain solid possession time during most of their chances. They finished the night 0-5 with the man advantage.
The visitors tried to make a game of it late when Sergei Samsonov finally got a puck past Marc-Andre Fleury on a rush with just 4:25 left in the game. He was set up nicely by Jiri Tlusty at the blueline.
Near the end, the Hurricanes pulled out Ward and were able to generate some decent pressure in the Pittsburgh zone. Eric Staal knocked in the rebound off of a Joe Corvo shot with 58 seconds left, but that would be it as the team was unable to pull off a miracle ending.
Quick Thoughts and Stats:
- The Canes thought they had a 1-0 lead in the second period when Erik Cole gained a step on the defense and appeared to beat Fleury, but replays clearly showed the puck hitting the crossbar and bouncing out.
- The Pens enhanced their reputation for being a chippy, borderline dirty team. At one time, Chris Kunitz had Jeff Skinner incensed and refused to let go of the 18-year-old, even as linesmen tried to pry them apart. Eric Staal and Brooks Orpik also exchanged heated words at the end of the game and both got misconducts. There was some serious cross-checking going on with seconds left in the game that the Canes weren't too happy about.
- Cam Ward looked sharp for stretches of the game, but seemed lost on the shorthanded goal by Pascal Dupuis. He finished making 28 saves on 31 shots.
- The Canes were able to generate more shots on goal in just a portion of a period in their last contest, than they did in the first two periods (14) of this game. They had 12 shots in the third, but most of those came in the flurry near the end of the game. Skinner had a team high five shots.
Patrick Dwyer left the game early with an undisclosed injury and did not return. He finished with 8:59 of ice time.
- The team was outhit by the Penguins 36-27. Ruutu and LaRose had four each to lead the way.
- Toronto will visit for a game on Monday night. The Canes will need to re-group. They are scheduled to practice tomorrow, but that might be canceled. I'll have an update here later tonight if I hear anything.
(Update: there will be a limited practice, (4-6 players) at the Rec Zone at noon tomorrow.)
Post game interviews: