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Carolina Survives: Hurricanes 5, Penguins 3

The Carolina Hurricanes took a 3-0 lead into the third period, watched the lead evaporate to a 3-3 tie, then scored a couple more goals when they needed to as they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-3 on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 16,260 at the RBC.  The team broke a four game losing streak with the win.

Jeff Skinner would be instrumental in the first three goals for the team as he scored the first on a nifty backhander just a minute and change into the first period, then assisted on the next two in the second as Tuomo Ruutu cashed in with nice goals.

But the Penguins came roaring back in the third on two goals by Jordan Staal, and another by Chris Kunitz.    With the score tied at three, the Pens really amped up the pressure in the Carolina zone, but Cam Ward kept making clutch saves, as he did most of the night.  The goalie faced another 40 shots in this contest. 

With 4:34 left, the Canes came down on a break and Eric Staal passed the puck to an open Chad LaRose, who put the shot on net.  After Brent Johnson made the initial save, Staal was there to tuck in the rebound, which stopped a long dry spell for the Captain. 

LaRose would add insurance on a breakaway two minutes and change later.

The coaching staff moved Staal to winger for much of this game as he played with Brandon Sutter at center.  It was the first game in quite a while that Staal had played wing and he said it took getting used to.

"It definitely made me think out there," he said.  "But as the game went on, I got used to it and I thought I played well with Brandon.  I didn't mind the change."

The team will next face Philadelphia at home on Monday. 

Game Notes:

  • The team allowed three more goals in the third period, giving them a league high of 27 allowed.  When asked after the game about it, Paul Maurice didn't have an answer.  There were certainly nervous moments on the bench and in the stands after the Pens started to climb back into the game in the third.    
  • For all the noted trouble in the third period, the Canes are solid when they do have the lead.  They improved their record to 6-0-0 when leading after two periods.  
  • The team was outshot in every period in this game and ended up at a 40-26 disadvantage, but Cam Ward stood on his head a lot as the Pittsburgh skilled players seemed to have plenty of chances all night.
  • Staal led the team with five shots on goal and also had 23:30 of ice time. 
  • Speaking of ice time, the fourth line was used sparingly. Dalpe had 4:31 of TOI, Boychuk 3:59, and Tlusty 5:22.  On the other side of the rink, Richard Park had his team's lowest ice time at 9:45.  
  • The Canes had 20 blocked shots led by Bryan Allen with five.  Allen also dropped the gloves with Arron Asham which helped to rouse up the crowd in the opening period.  
  • Tuomo Ruutu had a team high six hits.  The Canes had 32 for the game.  
  • Both teams split faceoffs at 50%.
  • Jeff Skinner was named the number one star of the game and deservedly so.  He fought through traffic all night long, drew penalties, and created scoring chances.  
  • The Carolina powerplay looked lethargic much of the night and finished at 0-4.  One of Jordan Staal's goals was scored shorthanded, but the penalty killers were able to kill off all Pen powerplay chances, including a long stretch of 1:28 of a 5-on-3, which obviously was crucial. 
  • It's hard to complain about the effort in this one as the team was fired up from the start, although they looked a bit tired coming down the stretch when the Pens made a run.  
  • Related:  A Montreal Canadiens scout was in attendance upstairs.