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Aftermath: Hurricanes 3, Penguins 2 OT

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Carolina prevailed in overtime over the Penguins in a pivotal showdown that had ramifications in the Eastern Conference standings. It was an exciting, up-tempo game with a lot of hitting and scoring chances. It’s only fitting that an intense game between the two hottest teams in the NHL went into overtime, as both teams were equally impressive. Pittsburgh picked up a crucial point in the standings and needs only two points to clinch a playoff berth.

Pittsburgh played a solid game and put forth a winning effort, but Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward stole the game for Carolina. The Penguins were the better team in the first three periods but Ward was even better, denying a number of quality chances – including a Sidney Crosby breakaway and Evgeni Malkin penalty shot.  

Carolina opened the overtime period on the power play – thanks to a late penalty called in the third period. The Hurricanes scored before the Penguins were able to get their footing in the overtime frame.
(AP)-Anton Babchuk scored at 1:11 of overtime and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on Saturday night to clinch their first playoff berth since 2006.

Cam Ward stopped 33 shots and matched a club record with his 38th victory of the season, helping the Hurricanes extend their franchise-record home winning streak to 11.

Tyler Kennedy had a goal and an assist for the Penguins, and Jordan Staal (changed to Ruslan Fedotenko) scored with 16 minutes left to make it 2-2. Fleury finished with 27 saves for the Penguins, who were denied a 12th come-from-behind victory. The defending Eastern Conference champs picked up points for the 16th time in 17 games, but still have work to do to clinch another playoff berth.
Pos. Team GP Record Pts
4. Philadelphia 78 42-25-11 95
5. Carolina 79 44-28-7 95
6. Pittsburgh 78 42-27-9 93
7. Montreal 78 41-27-10 92
8. NY Rangers 79 40-30-9 89
9. Florida 78 38-29-11 87
10. Buffalo 78 38-31-9 85

Team Notables:
Buffalo: Lost to New Jersey, 3-2
Carolina: Defeated Pittsburgh, 3-2 in overtime
Florida: Host Pittsburgh, Sunday at 5 p.m.
Montreal: Won at Toronto, 6-2
NY Rangers: Lost at Boston, 1-0
Philadelphia: Lost at Ottawa, 4-3 in shootout

Penguins defenseman Hal Gill leveled Hurricanes captain Rod Brind'Amour (photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Penalty Kill
The biggest moment in the game occurred during the final 1:48 of the third period with the Penguins shorthanded. Tied at 2-2, Carolina had a chance to win the game in regulation and leave Pittsburgh with nothing to show for its work. The Penguins penalty killers stepped up and held off the Hurricanes, forcing overtime and netting Pittsburgh a point in the standings.

What Could Have Gone Better: Guerin Goal
In a tight, low-scoring game every goal is critical – and every non-goal. The Penguins appeared to tie the game at 2-2 halfway through the second period when Bill Guerin ripped a shot into the net from the near faceoff circle. However, a penalty was charged to Pittsburgh and the goal was waived off. Who knows how differently the game would have played out if that goal had counted but it was a blow to the Penguins. 
Tyler Kennedy is playing the best hockey of his young career right now. Every time he hits the ice he flies around with a contagious enthusiasm and work ethic. He tallied a goal and an assist in the game, while adding three shots. Kennedy provided a great spark for the Penguins.
The Penguins did a great job of fighting for the puck along the boards in the Carolina zone to net the game’s first goal. Jordan Staal, Ruslan Fedotenko and Tyler Kennedy all took turns working the puck low. Kennedy got a step on Rod Brind’Amour in the near corner and had a clear lane to the Hurricanes goal. Carolina goaltender Cam Ward dropped to the ice to take away the lower part of the net in anticipation that Kennedy would go low. Instead, Kennedy patiently skated through the crease before lifting a backhand shot into the goal. Pittsburgh 1, Carolina 0.

The Hurricanes worked the puck low to tie the game. Erik Cole had the puck behind the Penguins cage. He threw a centering pass to Eric Staal, who was above the crease. Staal slammed home the shot for his 36th tally of the year. Pittsburgh 1, Carolina 1.

Carolina took the lead a minute into the second period. Matt Cooke’s pass at the Pittsburgh blue line was intercepted by Ray Whitney. The Hurricanes worked the puck to Chad LaRose above the far circle. LaRose ripped a shot over the shoulder of Marc-Andre Fleury. Carolina 2, Pittsburgh 1.

From one Staal to another: Jordan Staal tied the game for Pittsburgh early in the third period. Kennedy carried the puck in the Carolina zone, juke-ing Hurricanes defenseman Anton Babchuk. Kennedy set up Staal for a one-timer above the far circle that eluded Ward. (The NHL later reviewed the goal and awarded it to Fedotenko). Pittsburgh 2, Carolina 2.

The Penguins were scrambling in their own zone in the overtime and the Hurricanes took advantage by scoring the winning goal. Pittsburgh was a step behind the play during the sequence and Babchuk buried a slap shot into the goal. Carolina 3, Pittsburgh 2.
The intensity of this game can be summed up in one sequence in the second period. During that span there were at least seven monstrous hits leveled by both teams. It was almost like each team was trying to “show up” the other with a big hit. That was playoff hockey.

Was it just me or did the ice look really bad at the RBC Center? The puck was bouncing and players were having difficulty controlling the puck. The ice seemed to slow the puck’s trajectory at times and, also, a few players lost their edge.
> Pittsburgh dropped its record to 42-27-9 on the year with an 18-14-6 mark on the road. The Penguins are 13-1-3 in their last 17 games.

> Pittsburgh is 15-2-4 since Dan Bylsma was named interim head coach.

> Scoring Summary:
PIT, T.Kennedy (14), 5:49 1st period: Penguins 1, Hurricanes 0
CAR, E.Staal (36), 13:25 1st period: Penguins 1, Hurricanes 1
CAR, C.LaRose (19), 0:57 2nd period: Hurricanes 2, Penguins 1
PIT, J.Staal (22), 3:34 3rd period: Penguins 2, Hurricanes 2
CAR, A.Babchuk (14), 1:11 OT: Hurricanes 3, Penguins 2

> Evgeni Malkin did not score but his NHL lead in points is at 108 (34G-74A). Malkin’s 108 points sets a new career high (previously 106) and his 74 assists are a league-best and a new career high.

> Malkin has tallied 30-plus goals (34) in three straight seasons and has broken the 100-point barrier (108) for the second consecutive season.

> Sidney Crosby went scoreless against Carolina. He is third in the league in scoring with 99 points (30G-69A) and his 69 assists are second most in the league behind teammate Malkin’s 74.

> Crosby has a point in 16 of his last 17 games, tallying 27 points (9G-18A) over that span.

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves in the game. He is 12-1-3 in his last 16 games.

> Tyler Kennedy scored a goal and assist for a two-point night.

> Jordan Staal notched an assist against the Hurricanes, setting a new single-season career high with 43 points (previously 42, 2006-07).

> Ruslan Fedotenko tallied a goal and assist vs. Carolina. He has six points in his last three games with two goals and four assists.

> Rob Scuderi tallied an assist. He has three assists in his last four games.
 1. C.Ward, Car
2. A.Babchuk, Car
3. E.Staal, Car


Author: Sam Kasan

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