The Carolina Hurricanes have had a hard time scoring goals this season but lit the lamp often enough on Thursday night as they defeated the injury depleted Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-2 in front of 13,743 at the PNC Arena.
Cam Ward made his return to the ice after missing five games due to an illness and he was on top of his game as he made 27 saves on 29 Penguin shots. A couple of them were superb.
The Pens were missing Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist and others and only played 11 forwards and 6 defensemen in this game. They could not make a recall because they did not have any room within their salary cap structure.
That didn't seem to slow them down though as they were buzzing around the Carolina net much of the first two periods.
Cam Ward and his defense were equal to the task in this contest though.
Brandon Sutter scored one against his old team just 3:54 into the game to get the visitors off to a good start, but the Canes would answer in short time.
Eric Staal tied it off of a feed by his brother Jordan, just a minute and change later.
Then 8:27 into the game, Brad Malone found Ryan Murphy alone at the backdoor and the defenseman made it 2-1, home team.
The Pens would come close to scoring a couple more times right after that but Ward made stellar saves, none better than the one on David Perron, who thought he had scored on the play, also at the backdoor. (He was not the only one who thought so.)
At the end of the first period, the Pens had the advantage in shots, 14-7, but were losing on the scoreboard, 2-1.
Jay McClement would make the score, 3-1 midway through the second period, again off of a feed by Malone.
Shortly after that play, Eric Staal, Riley Nash, and Alexander Semin teamed up for a very pretty goal to make it 4-1 and the Canes were rolling. Semin notched his fifth goal of the season on the play, off of a picture perfect pass by Nash.
Both teams battled away to start the third period until Andrej Nestrasil beat Fleury down close during a Carolina powerplay to make it, 5-1. E. Staal fed him down low.
The Pens scored a meaningless tally down the stretch to close out the scoring.
The Captain had a game high three points with a goal and two helpers as 11 Hurricanes notched points in this game. Malone was certainly impressed as he compared the Staal brothers to the Sedins after the game. He also credited their leadership in getting the team going.
The Canes will continue their home stand as they take on the Devils next on Saturday night.
- The Hurricanes had 28 shots and were led by E. Staal with five. He said afterward that it seemed like he had many chances to score and much more open ice than usual in this game.
- John-Michael Liles and Justin Faulk led the way with six hits each. The team had 35 compared to 24 for the Pens. Faulk had a team high 24:44 of TOI.