Five. Straight. Losses.
It's hard to say a loss felt any better this time, but tonight's 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins had signs of an offensive vigor that the Hurricanes had been missing during the previous four-straight losses.
Once again, the Hurricanes ran up the shot count, with 30 on goal compared to the Penguins’ 22 -- not a new trend. But the Canes’ chances tonight had more traffic, caught more deflections and were created closer to the net than they had been recently.
The only thing they weren't: goals.
The one goal that Jeff Skinner scored 8:00 into the first period came off a giveaway by Pittsburgh's Matt Cullen in the middle of the Canes offensive zone. A couple good passes from Phil Di Giuseppe and Lee Stempniak found Skinner a few feet from the center of the goal, and he placed it in the top right corner past the reach of Matt Murray.
But nothing else would drop in the goal.
The Penguins gave the Hurricanes many opportunities to build chances, especially in penalty minutes. Evgeni Malkin committed back-to-back penalties before the game's 10:00 mark and earned another in the second period. Sidney Crosby went to the box in the first and second period. Although the Hurricanes usually could keep the puck moving in the offensive zone throughout these power plays, only Skinner could get past Murray.
On the other side of the ice, the Penguins struggled relative to their own performance this season. Especially in the first and second periods, the Penguins had trouble holding the puck in their offensive zone. But they still managed to score: a Scott Wilson goal 2:15 into the game, a Crosby redirection in the second period for his league-leading 33rd goal of the season and an easy wrister from Malkin halfway through the third period.
Even at home, the Penguins are a tough opponent to beat, especially when starting the third period without the lead (Penguins are 24-0-0 when leading at the end of the second period). But the Hurricanes are going to have to find ways to beat these kinds of big opponents to reach the upper tier of teams they want to be a part of.
Rank the Performances
Here’s your chance to weigh in on how you think the team performed tonight. Upvote the players you think played well and downvote the ones who didn’t.