Carolina’s legs looked heavy in their third game in four nights, and Pittsburgh took full advantage in waltzing to a 5-0 win.
1. The first shift with Jordan Staal, Andrej Nestrasil and Joakim Nordstrom grinding down the Penguins in Pittsburgh end looked like a good omen, but Carolina’s third game in four nights proved too much for the Hurricanes. Following that opening shift, the Canes seemed slow, looking for risky cross-ice or stretch passes to try and generate offense rather than skating the puck up the ice as they have in recent games. The team's sloppiness with the puck benefited the Penguins, who capitalized on Carolina’s mistakes early and often.
2. It also didn't help that Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is officially all the way back from his early season slump. Crosby scored his first of two goals late in the second period on the power play to build a 3-0 lead, then added another (his 14th on the year) 6:55 into the third. With Crosby going and Evgeni Malkin continuing to play as individually well as he ever has, the Hurricanes didn't have an answer for Pittsburgh's multi-line attack.
3. Anything short of a Herculean effort from Eddie Lack would have meant a loss for Carolina Sunday. Still, Lack was missing his A game, and the result will likely be a return to Cam Ward Thursday in Toronto. Lack was beaten stick side high four times Sunday, exposing a weakness that clearly needs fixing.
Number To Know
10 — Shot attempts for Jaccob Slavin, who again logged big minutes for Carolina (team-high 24:31) in the loss. His shot attempt output doubled the next closest Hurricanes player (John-Michael Liles, 5). Slavin has become a fixture on the second power play unit, and the extra man-advantage minutes have resulted in four straight games of 21:50 or more for the rookie blueliner. He missed on a couple scoring chances, but the fact remains he's getting those chances.
Jordan Staal — Being the road team, Carolina couldn't shadow Malkin with Staal. Staal still performed well, finishing with a plus-1 Corsi on the night and he was not on the ice for a goal against (only Staal and Nordstrom managed the latter feat). Staal also won 15 of 20 faceoffs, including all seven he took shorthanded, and took nine of 10 draws from Crosby.
Brad Malone — Shortly after the Penguins took a 1-0 lead, Malone was called for interference to send the Hurricanes to the penalty kill. While Pittsburgh did not convert, it seemed to further cement the tone for the game.