The Pittsburgh Penguins skated into Raleigh on Tuesday night and against the struggling Carolina Hurricanes with their playoff spot already locked up. A victory would allow them to add a “Y” next to their name in the standings as Atlantic Division champs. Carolina refused to make things easy on Pittsburgh scoring first and then taking the lead again early in the third period, but two goals in 13 seconds and Marc-Andre Fleury holding off a flurry of shots late pushed them over the top.
“It’s something as a team where I think that’s always one of your goals,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “We’ve always had good teams, we just haven’t been able to win it with our division being so tough. So I think it’s definitely a good thing for us, especially in the shortened season. It’s been a grind here; we still have a ways to go. So I think we want to keep going. I don’t think we want to let our foot off the gas pedal here. We want to finish strong and carry that into the playoffs.”
Sloppy play for both teams was the story of the start of the first period. With Deryk Engelland and Kevin Westgarth already in the box for introducing their fists to each others faces, former Hurricane Craig Adams joined Engelland giving Carolina the man advantage. In an effort to keep things fair, Eric Staal decided to slash Mark Eaton and make things four-on-four. 19 seconds later the Hurricanes went back up a man when Chris Kunitz tripped Jeff Skinner. Joe Corvo made them pay for that and opened the scoring with a wrist shot from just inside his blue line. Only a minute later Robert Bortuzzo slides in behind Alexander Semin to take a pin-point pass from Pascal Dupuis and deposit it behind Carolina goalie Justin Peters. Later in the period Brendan Morrow received a no-look behind the back pass from Jussi Jokinen and made an amazing move to snap one into the net. Bobby Sanguinetti received a face-off win and scored his second of the year to knot the game at two.
The two teams carried their two all tie from the first period over to the final one. Riley Nash broke the tie when a rebound found him open in front of the net and he backhanded it past Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh stormed back on goals by Beau Bennett (tied the game) and then 13 seconds later Evgeni Malkin was in the right place at the right time to tip-in the eventual game winner. Pascal Dupuis deposited an unassisted empty netter just before the final horn to give the Penguins a 5-3 victory.
– The Penguins scored two goals in the span of 13 seconds in the third period tonight (Bennett 9:49, Malkin 10:02).
– The Hurricanes’ franchise record for fastest two goals scored by opposition is eight seconds, when Bill Derlago (1:44) and John
Anderson (1:52) scored the first two goals of the game for the Maple Leafs in a 7-2 Hartford win at Toronto on Dec. 23, 1980.
The Penguins outshot the Hurricanes 33–28 tonight.
– Entering tonight’s game, Carolina ranked second in the NHL in shots per game (32.5).
– Entering tonight’s game, Pittsburgh ranked 11th in the NHL in shots per game (30.0).
– Pittsburgh is 19-4-0 this season when outshooting its opponent.
– Carolina is 7-10-1 this season when outshot by its opponent.
Problems at Home
– The Hurricanes’ lost their franchise record eighth straight home game tonight (3/14-4/9: 0-8-0)
– Carolina’s eight-game home losing streak breaks the previous franchise record of seven games (Dec. 27, 2002-Jan. 20, 2003: 0-6-0-1).
– Tonight’s loss marked the Hurricanes’ sixth consecutive loss (4/1-4/9: 0-6-0).
– The last time Carolina lost six straight games in regulation was Nov. 25-Dec. 6, 2011 (0-6-0).