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Captain Consistency: Staal’s two-goal night propels Canes to comeback win

The Carolina Hurricanes came back from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime 3-2 Friday night at PNC Arena.

Jordan Staal celebrates scoring with teammates during the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Friday, March 4, 2022 in PNC Arena. The Canes won in overtime, 3-2.
Kaydee Gawlik

After getting embarrassed in Washington just 24 hours earlier, it came as a shock that the Carolina Hurricanes were as flat footed as they were in the first period.

Defensive lapses, turnovers and an inability to cleanly pass the puck followed the Canes’ back home and, because of that, it was an uphill battle early in Carolina.

It wasn’t like the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins were particularly good, it was just that the Hurricanes were just making those small mental mistakes.

The first Pittsburgh goal came off a tough Necas turnover in his own end. He had ample time and space to make an appropriate play, but instead he sent it right up the middle where it was picked off. The Penguins kept the zone and Jake Guentzel was in front to tip home a Marcus Pettersson shot past Antti Raanta.

The next Penguins goal came on the power play after Nino Niederreiter sat for a retaliatory slash. The Canes technically killed it off, but the Penguins reloaded with possession and Guentzel hit a streaking Sidney Crosby for the goal.

The Hurricanes looked like a mess in their own zone and were generating nothing dangerous offensively.

Luckily, the team actually decided to show up for the second period.

And it was none other than the captain, Jordan Staal, setting the tone with his fourth goal in seven games potting home a rebound chance in front.

The Staal line with Nino Niederreiter and Jesper Fast has been one of Carolina’s most consistent lines this season, able to generate hard on the forecheck and stymie opponents chances.

The Canes tilted the chance and shot numbers through the next 20 minutes, but some stellar goaltending from Casey DeSmith was keeping Carolina at bay.

However, halfway through the third, the captain broke through again.

Ethan Bear made a solid play to hold the line on what seemed like an assured clear and he sent the puck back on net, where Staal redirected it from the high-slot.

Five goals in his last seven games, to correct an earlier comment.

The Canes were pushing from there and tempers rose to a boiling point as Vincent Trocheck dropped the gloves with Penguins’ defenseman Mark Friedman. Trocheck scored the takedown and pumped the crowd as he was going to the box.

Nobody could find the go-ahead goal in regulation, so to overtime it went.

And that’s when the Canes got their chance.

Trocheck, freshly out of the box, got under the skin of Pittsburgh’s top defenseman Kris Letang and drew a dumb slashing call against the Penguins.

On the ensuing power play, Andrei Svechnikov parked himself in front of the net where he cleaned up a juicy rebound to win it for Carolina.

From down two, to winning in overtime, the Hurricanes showcased the relentlessness that they are known for and grabbed yet another two points in the standings.

The Canes will be back in action on Sunday as they host the Seattle Kraken for the first time in franchise history at 7 p.m. at PNC Arena.