The Penguins decide to give Casey DeSmith the game in net, but the rest of their lineup is the same as they try to run the same lines and lineup to get another win.
And the Hurricanes are largely as expected, too, as they look to protect home ice and win their fifth straight game.
Great start for Pittsburgh, who gets the first power play of the game, but doesn’t get much with it.
Overall, the Penguins look like a rested team and Carolina looks like a crippled team that played last night, because they are.
Hurricanes goaltender Piotr Kochetkov is the biggest reason for the scoreless first, the Pens testing him early and often with a few threatening looks, but Kochetkov is up for the challenge.
Shots in the first: 11-7 Pittsburgh.
Carolina got on the board early in the second and it was the familiar targets of Brian Dumoulin and Jan Ruta who again put the puck out of their net. Rutta loses a board battle behind the net, Dumoulin is trapped in no man’s land and hesitates to jump off the net, and ends up being used as a screen by Derek Stepan. Stepan rips a shot that DeSmith can’t follow and it’s 1-0 Hurricane.
The Pens compound their woes when Chad Ruhwedel goes into the box on the very next shift following the goal. Pittsburgh is killing it.
Dumoulin saves a penalty and Martin Nekas heads into the box, but Pittsburgh’s power play can’t equalize.
Finally, Pittsburgh’s power play ends on fourth down. Jacob Slavin gets his head off the ice after he sends the puck over the glass and Sidney Crosby wins the faceoff. Kris Letang passes to Evgeni Malkin, who shoots/passes to the front of the net for Rickard Rakell to tip over. A great way to beat a hot-headed goalkeeper is tipping from point-blank range. Draw: 1-1, at the end of the second period: 7:40.
After a 4-1 power play lead, you know it’s going to be tied and sure enough. Dumoulin comes out to fight, and then Ryan Pauling gets on the post at the end of a PK and knocks down a Carolina player, enough to give Carolina a 5v3 with 17 seconds left.
Almost instantly though, the officiating show continues as the Zebras send off Stefan Noesen for a high stick in front of the net.
Shots in the second, 13-6 Carolina, who wakes up and takes over a bit. The Pens are fortunate to still be tied and in a position to score.
Carolina doesn’t give up too many odd rushes, but they turn the ball over on a defensive switch and Kasperi Kapanen goes 2-on-1 on the rush. Kapanen passes to Brock McGinn and the former Hurricane gets a friendly bounce off the Carolina defender’s stick in an attempted block and the puck flies into the net. 2-1 Pens take their first lead of the game with 14:57 left.
Carolina counters and ties the game. Letang throws Jordan Staal in the corner, but the Canes’ second baseman finds the box before Danton Heinen and returns it to the point. Brady Skjei leaves, and with all kinds of traffic, the puck finds its way to DeSmith’s short side. 2-2 game with 11:43 left.
Carolina pulls out in front with 6:27 left and great work down low. Eventually, Jesper Fast brings PO Joseph out and centers the puck, where Staal uses his big frame to shake off Ruhwedel and put the puck past Desmyth. 3-2 Carolina in the backfield.
Pittsburgh will have to pull the goalie in an attempt to tie the game. Letang desperately scatters to keep the puck out of the net to extend the game. The Pens take a timeout to give their best players a breather. It doesn’t work and the stormtroopers fly out in victory.
- Without the services of the injured Sebastian Aho, Carolina had an unenviable choice when it came to matching the lines. They decided to stick with what they usually do and check Malkin with Jordan Staal. But with Aho not there to contain Sidney Crosby’s line, it put a lot of stress on Kochetkov.
- A very good game for Kapanen who actually used his speed and made good decisions with the puck. It’s pretty damning that a “must score forward” observation is even noticeable, but at this point you have to take what he has to give in the game when it’s more than nothing.
- Not to mention, Heinen’s defensive play to not find the game-tying goal is a poor look. Heinen had three shots on goal, including a really nice deflection in front in the first period that was a dangerous scoring opportunity, but he doesn’t add much to the top six.
- Before Staal’s game-winning goal, DeSmith reached for the board with his glove and decided to throw it back into the game. The Pens never recovered and soon the puck was in the back of their net. It wasn’t even like DeSmith was moving it to the open player, really questionable decision there.
- DeSmith was tremendous earlier, but it was also a strange decision to play him and not Tristan Jarry in this game, especially seeing as Carolina didn’t play their best goaltender last night to keep him ready tonight. The Pens inexplicably chose to bench their best goaltender.
- A big missed opportunity for pens. They can’t win them all, but Carolina played last night and was without their best forward in Aho. And Pittsburgh found a way to lose this one. It hurts a little, but these two teams will meet again on Thursday in Pittsburgh and give the Pens another chance to see how they can handle a quality team. So far 0-1-1 against Carolina, it hasn’t been all that impressive.
The seven-game winning streak is history, but the Pens can’t feel too sorry for themselves. The red-hot Rangers come to town on Tuesday night for another clash of two of the better teams in the Metropolitan Division.