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Recap: Hurricanes Edged by Penguins

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Analysis from Pittsburgh

→ Less than 24 hours after an emotional shutout loss to the Dallas Stars that halted the team's franchise-best point streak, the Carolina Hurricanes fell 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in another closely-contested match up.

"It was a quick turnaround. It can be a positive or a little bit tough. Early on we did a good job getting everyone involved. All four lines were going early on. We just couldn't seem to find the one at the end," Jeff Skinner said. "Guys battled hard."

"Last night was tough. To come in here against a pretty good team, we're still fighting trying to get every point possible, it was a pretty good effort by the guys," Justin Faulk said. "We didn't really sit back too much. We're still trying to play our game."

"A real good effort. We did a real good job. One goal short," head coach Bill Peters said. "Guys played hard, and they've been playing hard for a long time. That won't change moving forward."

Video: CAR Recap: Skinner, Faulk score in 3-2 loss to Pens

→ As it can be on many nights, special teams was a determining factor in this evening's game. The Penguins had two power play opportunities on somewhat marginal calls and took advantage of both, making it look easy with bang-bang passing plays.

In the first period, Chad Ruhwedel fed Jake Guentzel for a power-play goal that gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead in the game. In the third period, Patric Hornqvist dished off to Conor Sheary for the tally. It was the first time since March 9 that the Hurricanes' penalty kill had allowed multiple goals in a game.

"Those were pretty nice plays. Tough to stop," Faulk said. "A lot of skill out there."

On their first power play of the game, a four-minute affair, Justin Faulk scored on a bank shot off the glass, off Matt Murray's back and in. The goal was Faulk's 17th of the season, which sets a new Canes record for goals in a season by a defenseman.

"I was just trying to shoot it, get it down to the net and try to create something," Faulk said. "Lucky break. You get those every now and then, maybe not like that."

"He's got a big shot, and I think everyone knows it. He's able to get it off," Skinner explained. "The challenge, especially for D-men when you have that big shot, teams are aware and they try to take it away. His game has evolved in a way that … he still finds ways to contribute and get big goals for us."

"It's a weapon. He's got a great release," Peters said. "He can shoot it multiple ways. Sometimes they have to overplay him a little bit, and it opens up seams and different things both 5-on-5 and on the power play."

→ Speaking of records, Jeff Skinner equaled a career-best today in scoring his 33rd goal of the season.

And I use the word "scoring" loosely. Lucas Wallmark one-handed the puck to Elias Lindholm in the slot, who looked to bang in his own rebound. Just as the puck crossed the goal line, though, Skinner's stick touched the puck. Lindholm settled for the primary assist, of which he's got plenty this season. Skinner's 33rd matches a career high previously set in the 2013-14 season.

"I kind of took one there from Lindy by accident," Skinner said. "It's nice to contribute when you're winning. That's the biggest thing."

→ There wasn't a lot of flow in the first six minutes or so of today's game, and there seemed to be a whistle for every 30 seconds of game action. Despite this, the Hurricanes had the early edge and held the Penguins without a shot for the first 7:26. After being slow to start in Philadelphia on the second half of a back-to-back two weeks ago, Peters was concerned about how the team would respond today; all things considered, it was a good start.

"We started on time and did a good job there," Peters said. "The start was fine and the effort was fine. We just needed one more."

"We had some good opportunities, I think, some good chances to score," Faulk said. "There were some pucks laying by the net that would have been nice to get a second whack at. It just didn't go. They had some good bounces and nice goals, too. Just a tough break."

→ Just six days after being wheeled off the ice on a stretcher after a scary collision in overtime, Eddie Lack returned to the crease for the Hurricanes.

There wasn't much he could do on the power-play goals scored against him today, and his other blemish came on a failed attempt to cover the puck, as Scott Wilson banged in the loose puck.

→ Four games remain for the Hurricanes in the 2016-17 regular season. Carolina will make their lone stop in Minnesota on Tuesday, and a pregame ceremony honoring Eric Staal's 1000th NHL game will take place.

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