As the season winds down and the playoffs are fast approaching, teams on the brink of the postseason add an extra measure of urgency to their game. That was evident in the way Carolina played on Friday, as they entered their tilt with the Penguins in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and just three points ahead of ninth-place Buffalo.
But despite falling behind 2-0 after the first 20 minutes of play, the Penguins got to their game in the second period. They outshot the Hurricanes 10-1 just over halfway into the frame and drew two power-play opportunities with their tenacious play. But despite their efforts, the Penguins just couldn’t get the puck to cross the goal line, eventually falling to the Hurricanes by a score of 4-1.
The Penguins' newest addition, Alex Kovalev, put forth a solid performance in his first game with Pittsburgh since being acquired from Ottawa on Thursday. He manned the left point on the Penguins' first power-play unit and helped create some quality scoring chances for his team.
Pascal Dupuis broke his 13-game goalless drought when he scored with 4:28 remaining in the second period.
In a display of his impressive speed, Dupuis jumpstarted the play that eventually led to his goal when he wheeled down the ice and picked the pocket of Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward, who had gone behind his net to play the puck.
While Dupuis wasn’t able to get a handle on the puck at that time, the Penguins were able to hold the blue line and keep the play going in the Hurricanes zone. That’s when Mike Rupp teed off a shot from the corner that ricocheted off Ward’s pad directly to the stick of Dupuis, who buried it for his 11th goal of the season.
He finished with two shots and two hits through 15:27 of ice time. With his tally, Dupuis finished the season series with Carolina with four goals through four games.
The Penguins dictated the pace once the second period began, outshooting the Hurricanes by a 10-1 margin just over halfway into the middle frame. The Penguins had all the momentum going their way and seemed poised to begin erasing their 2-0 deficit.
But shortly after Carolina head coach Paul Maurice called a timeout after an icing call on the Hurricanes, Eric Staal sent a puck to the slot while stationed in the corner of the Penguins zone. It went straight to the stick of Erik Cole, who slammed it home with 9:02 remaining in the period to give the Hurricanes a 3-0 lead that the Penguins couldn’t recover from.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Erik Cole continued his hot streak for the Carolina Hurricanes, scoring one goal and adding an assist in a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.
Cole, playing in his 600th career NHL game, has five goals and five assists in February.
Jay Harrison and Joe Corvo scored, Jussi Jokinen had a goal and an assist, and Derek Joslin had a pair of assists for his first two points with the Hurricanes.
Pascual Dupuis scored for the Penguins.
- Forward Dustin Jeffrey made his return to Pittsburgh’s lineup on Friday after missing the previous six games with a lower-body injury. Jeffrey, who started the game centering a line between Mike Rupp and Pascal Dupuis, won 5-of-6 faceoffs for an 83-percent success rate through 11:33 of ice time.
- Alex Kovalev kicked off his second stint with the Penguins on Friday after being acquired from the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, skating for exactly 19 minutes and throwing two hits. He played on the Penguins’ first line with Jordan Staal and James Neal, with the three creating a multitude of scoring chances while controlling the puck down low.
- Kovalev, who is a lefthanded shot, manned the left point on the Penguins’ first power-play unit opposite defenseman Kris Letang. Kovalev skated for almost the entire duration of both Pittsburgh power-play opportunities in the second period, logging 3:25 of ice time with the man-advantage in that frame. He finished the night with 4:13 power-play minutes.
- With injuries to two of the Penguins’ top defensemen in Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin, Deryk Engelland logged a season-high 19:40 of ice time in Friday’s game – eclipsing the 19:03 of ice time he logged on Wednesday against San Jose.
- The Hurricanes avoided a series sweep with their victory, as the Penguins had won all three meetings between the two teams prior to Friday’s game.
#1. Erik Cole
Left Wing - 26
600th game played
#2. Derek Joslin
Defenseman - 33
#3. Cam Ward
Goaltender - 30
Author: Michelle Crechiolo