Analysis from Raleigh
→ The Carolina Hurricanes could not extend their four-game home winning streak on Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they suffered their most lopsided loss of the season, 7-1.
"The team that worked the hardest tonight won the game," head coach Bill Peters said. "We've got to get back to having a little bit more semblance of our identity."
Video: CAR Recap: Stalberg scores in 7-1 loss to Penguins
→ The Hurricanes began the game with speed, energy and tenacity. They looked like the team that was 14-1-1 in its last 16 games at home. In the first five minutes, the Hurricanes were out-shooting Pittsburgh 6-0, and they recorded 12 shots on goal in the first 10 minutes of the game.
"We got off to a good start," Jeff Skinner said. "I thought we had a couple good chances."
"We had a good start, and we did some things we wanted to work on structurally that we needed to address because we've been a little unsound for a week," Ron Hainsey said.
In the first 10 minutes, Sebastian Aho had arguably the Canes' best chance to score, as he got a stick on a rebound shortly after the expiration of a power play. Matt Murray lunged over and made the save with his stick blade to preserve the scoreless nature of the hockey game. Also in that stretch were two sharp saves from Cam Ward on Trevor Daley and Evgeni Malkin, both who had good looks at near point-blank range. It was as-advertised: a good hockey game.
Then Teuvo Teravainen's clearing attempt was gloved down by Daley, and he stepped up, fired and scored to put his team up 1-0. And from there, it unraveled.
"It's up to us to respond when they get one, especially after you get off to a good start," Skinner said. "We just couldn't find the answer."
"They certainly took over the game for the remaining 50 minutes," Hainsey said.
→ In the 25 minutes of the game that succeeded the Canes' dominance in the first 10, the Canes managed only three shots on goal, and they were outscored 4-0. Carl Hagelin, Conor Sheary and Chris Kunitz scored in the second period to pad the Penguins' lead. Phil Kessel made it a 5-0 game in the final three minutes of the period, as he hammered in a cross-ice feed from Evgeni Malkin on the power play.
The second period - really, from the 10-minute mark of the first on - wasn't indicative of how the Hurricanes are capable of playing or have played in their last two months at home.
"I don't think we managed the puck very well. We turned it over too much. Their transition game was good and they capitalized," Peters said. "We got away with it a couple times when we outscored our mistakes, but tonight there was no chance to do that."
Video: Skinner, Hainsey and Peters Postgame
→ Viktor Stalberg's shorthanded tally, his eighth goal of the season and second scored shorthanded, erased Murray's shutout in the third period, but Pittsburgh added two more goals to stretch their lead. The Penguins have now tallied seven or more goals in two of their last three games.
"We gave up way too many quality chances and hung Wardo out to dry tonight," Skinner said.
"I think the last two games for us as a team, we haven't been hard enough at the paint," Peters said. "We've allowed people access to the blue paint. We've allowed people to stay there and get seconds and thirds."
→ Frustration for the Canes boiled over at points tonight. Skinner received an embellishment penalty and then a subsequent unsportsmanlike penalty. He didn't take a shift in the third period.
"I didn't think I said enough to warrant a second penalty, but obviously he thought I did. That's what I got. I hurt the team because they scored on the power play," Skinner said. "I hurt the team. You don't want to hurt the team. It's tough sitting and watching, especially when guys are out there battling."
→ The good news: the chance to rebound comes less than 24 hours from now. It's back to Columbus, where the Hurricanes will face off with the Blue Jackets on Saturday night for the third time in a span of 12 days. In tow will be the Canes' dads for their annual trip that will then take the team to Washington.
"We need to bounce back. Another game tomorrow," Skinner said. "We've got to get back to playing the way we play - play fast, making strong plays and playing together."
"We'll suit up at 4 tomorrow for warm-ups, get back out there and get a win," Hainsey said. "There's not much we will take from that one that we will want to replicate any time in the near future."
"Hopefully [the frustration] is all out in one night, and we'll move forward," Peters said.