In a huge matchup and with the top spot in the Metropolitan Division on the line, the Carolina Hurricanes emerged victorious as they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3.
The Canes relied on some quick-strike magic — scoring within the first 10 seconds of a period, twice — and solid goaltending by netminder Antti Raanta who picked up career win number 100 in the victory, to best the Pens.
The Hurricanes struck first with the new fourth line getting to work.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi kept the play alive in the corner where Seth Jarvis collected the puck and made a deft move behind the net. He then got the puck back up to the slot where Jordan Martinook tied up two Penguins leaving Kotkaniemi space to snipe it home.
Carolina was rolling early, but Penguins’ netminder Tristan Jarry played big, making tough save after tough save to keep his team in the game.
But right off the opening faceoff for the second period, the Canes won possession of the puck and Jordan Staal crashed to the Pittsburgh net and had a rebound bounce off of his left leg, and through Jarry’s five-hole.
The Hurricanes were in the driver’s seat, but around the halfway mark of the game, Pittsburgh began to find its footing.
Late in the second, Kris Letang thwarted a Carolina clearing attempt and sent the puck in on net. Antti Raanta made the initial save on a tip out in front, but the rebound went right to Bryan Rust for the putback.
Soon after that, Sidney Crosby of all people somehow got left all alone at the Canes’ blueline where he received a stretch pass and skated into the zone, ripping his 501st career goal past Raanta.
So heading into the third period, it seemed like the momentum might have shifted, but instead the Hurricanes scored off of the opening draw yet again.
This time, the Canes put together an odd-man rush led by Brady Skjei. Nino Niederreiter faked a slap pass and threaded a cross-ice pass to Jesper Fast, who buried it.
Raanta and the Canes continued to hold off the Penguins’ push and the Hurricanes finally got the chance to earn some breathing room after Andrei Svechnikov drew a penalty.
And that’s just what they did as Teuvo Teravainen found Sebastian Aho in the slot with a no-look pass which Aho one-timed past Jarry.
Pittsburgh would shrink the lead again as Evan Rodrigues finished off a cross-ice feed on a 6-on-4 opportunity, but Raanta and the Canes shut the door from there to win the game.
The Hurricanes will remain in-state as they head east to play the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday at 3 pm at the Wells Fargo Center.