The Carolina Hurricanes came into Pittsburgh looking to redeem themselves and put their loss to the Calgary Flames behind them. This game also saw Curtis McElhinney make his first start since the 6-1 beating the Canes took at Madison Square Garden. Despite his tough last outing McElhinney still entered the game boasting a .914 save percentage.
It’s better now, after a 4-0 shutout of the Penguins that served as Mac’s first whitewashing in a Hurricanes sweater.
McElhinney outplayed his counterpart, Matt Murray, throughout the game. Mac was unstoppable in the first two periods stopping everything that came his way at even strength and on the power play.
Carolina came out with a ton of energy to start the game, rushing to the puck and putting the body on the puck carrier. However, this did not translate into a ton of scoring opportunities early. Both teams were mistake prone in the first, but the Penguins generated high danger chances and scoring opportunities.
In a period where the Canes looked to be lucky to escape tied 0-0, they were the ones who broke through with 44 seconds left. Brock McGinn skated into the zone with Jordan Martinook trailing, McGinn dropped the puck back to Martinook who beat Murray glove side for his 12th goal of the year. The goal marked a new career high-mark for Martinook who received a two-year extension last week.
The second period could not have been more different for the two teams. The Canes kept up constant pressure and made every zone exit tough on the Penguins. Long sustained offensive zone pressure pressure led to mistakes by the Penguins. They really struggled to find rhythm offensively and with their passing. With the Pens trying to force more stretch passes it led to more mistakes and plenty of icing calls.
The Hurricanes were eventually rewarded for their efforts. With eight minutes left in the period, Brett Pesce was able to extend the lead to two. Pesce regained the puck along the boards and fired a shot high glove for a goal.
Brett Brett Brett Brett! pic.twitter.com/PCXhyoSasc— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) February 6, 2019
One of the most impressive aspects of the win was the Canes’ play in the third. They did not fall into a defensive shell allowing for the Penguins to pepper McElhinney with shots. Instead, they kept up pressure in an intelligent way. Defensemen did not pinch in the offensive zone and they only went for cross-ice passes when it was 100% safe.
In the defensive zone, they pounced on the puck carrier preventing the Penguins from being able to fully set up in the zone. Instead, the Penguins had to rely on scrambles and bad angle chances. McElhinney was able to stop whatever did get through in the third to complete the shutout. This is his first of the season and his ninth career shutout. Rod Brind’Amour also smartly matched up Jaccob Slavin on Sidney Crosby every time he was on the ice, and multiple times he shut him down one-on-one.
Micheal Ferland eventually scored an empty-netter with over a minute to seal the deal - but the scoring wasn’t over there. A minute later, Andrei Svechnikov took the puck from the Pens on their blue line, skated in and beat Murray to end his scoring drought.
It’s just the fourth win for the Canes over Mike Sullivan as Penguins coach since he took over in 2015. Carolina now heads to Buffalo as the road trip continues against the Sabres on Thursday.