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Unrested Canes put up fight, fall 4-2 in Pittsburgh

The Carolina Hurricanes, playing their second straight afternoon, fell to the Penguins 4-2, but the fight was there from the Canes in a tough situation.

Carolina Hurricanes v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

In their second game in 21 hours, the Carolina Hurricanes saw a four-game winning streak come to an end in a 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Canes, less than a day removed from a 3-1 home win over the Flyers, took the ice in Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon, competing with the better-rested Penguins the entire afternoon in an eventual loss.

Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead at the very end of the first period thanks to Brian Boyle, and the Penguins doubled that lead in the second on a Danton Heinen redirect. The Canes got one back during a very good third period off the stick of Brett Pesce, but an empty netter from Sidney Crosby helped seal the win for Pittsburgh.

The Canes did get another goal after the empty netter, as Sebastian Aho collected a heavy rebound beside the net and banked one in with 1:23 left to give Carolina life. Pittsburgh tallied on the empty net again, though, with Zach Aston-Reese putting the final nail in the coffin.

Both goalies were very good, with Tristan Jarry the main reason the Penguins won the game. Jarry stopped 41 of 43 shots faced, making a number of great saves to keep Pittsburgh in control. Antti Raanta was also fantastic, stopping 19 of 21 shots with the only two goals allowed not much on him at all.

All things considered, the first period, while scoreless for the Canes, was a pretty decent one. The Hurricanes, playing on about 20 hours of rest and in a new city, came out of the gate really well, dominating the play while very easily killing off two penalties.

Carolina couldn’t find the net, though, and Pittsburgh capitalized late in the first period to grab a hold of a 1-0 lead. Boyle crashed towards the net and got a good feed from Theodor Blueger, finishing past Raanta as Jaccob Slavin couldn’t disrupt the play in the crease.

The Canes went to the locker room down 1-0, the sixth straight game that Carolina has failed to score a first-period goal. Still, the effort was pretty good for the Hurricanes from the jump, as there wasn’t what would have been an understandable lull after the condensed inter-game rest.

But things maybe started to wear on the Hurricanes in the second period as things got a bit sloppier. Raanta made a magnificent save, held up by video review, to keep it a 1-0 game.

But a few minutes later the Penguins did make it 2-0, as a lazy clearance effort from the Hurricanes led to Pittsburgh firing a shot towards net through traffic. The puck took a bounce on its way to Raanta, who couldn’t get enough of it to keep it out of his net. Heinen got credit for the goal, redirecting it past the Canes’ netminder.

The Hurricanes had some chances to get one back, as a lively yet fruitless power play was put to bed by Jarry. Late in the third Jarry made a bad mistake, turning the puck over to the Canes in a dangerous position, but he somehow got himself back to the crease and made a pair of saves to keep it 2-0 heading into the second intermisison.

The Canes carried that late second-period momentum into the third, and it paid off on the scoreboard just under five minutes into the final frame. Carolina made a couple nice plays to keep the puck in the offensive zone, with Vincent Trocheck setting one up for Pesce.

Pesce, with his momentum behind him skating into the slot, blasted a wonderful wrister past Jarry, going upper shelf and giving the Penguins’ goalie no real shot of making a save.

Carolina continued to play its game down the stretch of the third, with Jarry once again coming up with a couple key saves to preserve the Pittsburgh lead. The Canes outshot the Penguins 20-5 in the third period.

Rod Brind’Amour pulled Raanta out of the Hurricanes’ net with 1:54 left, and Pittsburgh scored on it almost immediately as Crosby fired from his own red line and put it in.

Aho resuscitated the Canes’ life shortly after though, as an offensive-zone faceoff win eventually led to a heavy rebound for Aho, who collected the puck beside the Pittsburgh net and banked in a goal off Jarry to make it 3-2 with 1:23 still to play.

Pittsburgh got another empty netter to follow though, as Aston-Reese ended things.

The Canes will now get some needed days off, returning to the ice Thursday night in Toronto.