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Aftermath: Penguins 3, Hurricanes 2 SO

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh came out playing a near-flawless road contest in the first period by making all the smart plays teams need to make when playing away from home. They continuously used the boards to chip pucks out of their end and dumped the puck deep into the Carolina zone while outshooting the Hurricanes, 9-8, after 20 minutes. Playing such a style proved successful when Evgeni Malkin wisely used the boards to pass the puck ahead to Mike Rupp as two Carolina players closed in to lay the body. Rupp, supporting the play beautifully, took the pass in stride, moved in on Cam Ward, and made a sensational move on the Carolina netminder before placing a backhander under the crossbar for the score.

The Penguins appeared to take control of the game in the second period as their cycling game down low caused problems time and again for the Carolina defense. Pittsburgh was able to use the momentum they were generating off their cycle to fire 14 shots on Ward in the second frame. In the period Ward made several great saves, including two on backhanders from Sidney Crosby with plenty of mustard on them after the Penguins captain danced with the puck out of the corner.

Ray Whitney’s goal 4:25 into the third period cut the Penguins’ lead in half and gave Carolina momentum to get back into the game, but it took a save by Ward to make that goal matter. At the 14:31 mark of the period a great tic-tac-toe play from Crosby to Chris Kunitz to a wide-open Bill Guerin on the crease was denied by an unbelievable glove save by Ward. Guerin scores there to make it 3-1 in favor of the Penguins there is a good chance Carolina is finished. Instead Whitney scores four-and-a-half minutes later to tie the game and send it to overtime.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Chris Kunitz beat Cam Ward on the 12th shot of a shootout to help the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Wednesday night and continue their early season road success.

Evgeni Malkin and Michael Rupp scored goals for the Penguins, who improved to 5-0 on the road to set a franchise record for most consecutive road wins to open a season. Pittsburgh had won its first four twice before, the last time coming two seasons ago, but bested that with its fifth straight win against the Hurricanes.

Mike Rupp gets the Penguins going by scoring his first goal in a Pittsburgh uniform to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
(photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Scoring Off the Rush
Pittsburgh scored their first two goals off the rush, each created by players continuously moving their feet on the breakout. On the first goal, Alex Goligoski fought off a Carolina forechecker behind the Penguins net by keeping his legs driving forward, allowing him to get free and find the time to headman the puck to Evgeni Malkin, who quickly sprung Mike Rupp behind the Carolina defense for the goal. Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis and Malkin converted a three-on-two break into a goal barely four minutes into the second period, with Dupuis skating the puck into the Carolina defense before passing off to Malkin for the score.

What Could Have Gone Better: Protecting the Lead
The Penguins entered the third period having never lost a game in regulation under Dan Bylsma when leading after two periods (15-0-1). That streak nearly ended as the Penguins allowed Ray Whitney to score twice within the first 10:04 of the third period, and needed two saves later in the period by Marc-Andre Fleury on Whitney just to take the game into overtime.

Marc-Andre Fleury continues to pick up right where he left off in the Stanley Cup playoffs. His victory tonight gives him a 6-0 record on the season, extending his personnel-best streak to start a season. Fleury was solid between the pipes once again, stopping 27-of-29 shots through regulation and overtime, and allowing only one score against the six shooters he faced in the shootout.

Fleury didn’t have much of a chance on either of the two pucks that got behind him in the third period. Ray Whitney’s first goal was a one-timer from the slot, and his second a top-shelf deflection from right outside the crease. Down the stretch Fleury made key saves on Whitney and Eric Staal to allow the Penguins to take the game into overtime.
The Penguins struck first off the breakout at 14:24 of the first period following an attack by the Hurricanes. Alex Goligoski broke the puck out of the zone with a pass to Evgeni Malkin near center ice. As he was about to be hit, Malkin slid the puck off the boards to Mike Rupp, who was coming to offer puck support. Rupp got behind the Carolina defense and made a great move to undress Cam Ward before putting a backhander into the top shelf of the net. Pittsburgh 1, Carolina 0.

Another great passing sequence gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead 4:27 into the second period. Chris Kunitz skated the puck up the left side of the ice before feeding ahead to Malkin in the center. Skating the puck into the zone, Malkin left the puck for Pascal Dupuis who gave the puck right back to Malkin, whose shot from an impossible angle beat Cam Ward top-shelf to the short side. Pittsburgh 2, Carolina 0.

Carolina got on the board early in the third period when Tuomo Ruutu skated the puck down the right-wing boards in the Pittsburgh zone and fed a pass towards the front of the net to Ray Whitney, whose one-touch shot went through the legs of Marc-Andre Fleury to cut the Penguins’ lead in half. Pittsburgh 2, Carolina 1.

Whitney scored his second goal of the night midway through the third period as Carolina controlled play in the Pittsburgh end for an extended period. The puck went back to defenseman Tim Gleason at the left point, and his shot towards the net deflected off Whitney, tangled up with a Penguin defender just outside the crease, and went over the glove-side shoulder of Fleury to tie the score. Pittsburgh 2, Carolina 2.

The shootout went a season-high six rounds, with the Penguins scoring twice and the Hurricanes once. Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz scored for Pittsburgh, while Jussi Jokinen tallied for Carolina. Pittsburgh 3, Carolina 2.
Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin continue to gel more and more with each passing game, and it appears the trio is on the verge of a major breakout performance. Kunitz recorded the only point between the three with his assist on Evgeni Malkin’s goal, but as a line they combined for 13 shots on goal, seven from Crosby alone. During a sequence following a Kunitz penalty with four minutes to play in the second, the line combined with Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski to hold the puck in the Carolina zone for almost a minute straight. All five players touched the puck multiple times during the onslaught.

In addition to possessing one of the most lethal offensive attacks in the National Hockey League, the Penguins continue to be one of the most balanced teams. Through the first seven games of the season 11 different players have recorded goals, while only Chris Bourque, Eric Godard and Brooks Orpik have failed to record points among players who have dressed. Five players have more than two goals, with Crosby and Tyler Kennedy leading the way with four apiece.

Speaking of Kennedy, he did not score on this night after scoring the game winner in three of the Penguins' first five victories, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. His four shots on net were more than any Penguin besides Crosby, and it’s not just the total that sticks out with Kennedy, but more the process. Kennedy has been firing pucks from all angles and nearly caught Ward off his post at the 10:30 mark of the first period with a shot from the left-wing corner. If he keeps firing shots from all areas of the ice with such authority, Kennedy will soar past the 15 goals he scored last season.  
> Scoring Summary:
PIT, M. Rupp (1), 14:24 1st period: Penguins 1, Hurricanes 0
PIT, E. Malkin (3), 4:27 2nd period: Penguins 2, Hurricanes 0
CAR, R. Whitney (2), 4:25 3rd period: Penguins 2, Hurricanes 1
CAR, R. Whitney (3), 10:04 3rd period: Penguins 2, Hurricanes 2
SO PIT - S.Crosby, C. Kunitz; CAR - Jokinen

> The Penguins announced on Wednesday that the April 6th home game against the Washington Capitals originally scheduled for 7:00 p.m. will now start at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally by Versus.

> The Penguins’ victory established a new team record with five consecutive road wins at the start of a season. The Penguins return home Saturday to begin a five-game home stand before next hitting the road in Columbus on October 30th.

> Pittsburgh killed off all three Hurricane power plays, extending their streak to 11 consecutive opponent power plays killed.

> The Penguins are now 4-0 on the season when they register 30 or more shots on goal.

> With six victories in their first seven games, the Penguins have a great chance to establish a new club record for victories in the month of October, which currently stands at eight. Pittsburgh went 8-3 in the month of October during the 1986-87 season, and later went 8-1-2 during October in the 1992-93 campaign. The Penguins have seven games remaining in October to equal or best that mark.

> Chris Kunitz extended his assist streak to four games, tying a career high, when he helped set up Evgeni Malkin’s goal in the second period.  

> The decisive goal by Kunitz in the shootout was the fourth such score of his career, and first with the Penguins. Kunitz scored the winning goal in the shootout three times while with the Anaheim Ducks.

> Marc-Andre Fleury improved to 2-0 in shootouts this season. He now has a career record of 15-11 in shootouts, 14-5 since beginning his career 1-6 in such situations.

> Alex Goligoski posted a plus-2 rating to improve his mark to a team-best plus-7 for the season. Jay McKee and Ruslan Fedotenko also posted plus-2 ratings. McKee is second to Goligoski with a plus-6 rating through seven games.

> With his goal and assist, Evgeni Malkin registered his third multiple-point performance of the season, most on the team. He previously shared the lead with Crosby and Alex Goligoski, who have two each.
1. C. Ward
2. E. Malkin
3. R. Whitney
"When your number is called in a shootout you try
to go out and make a good move and put the
puck on net and it went in."
- Chris Kunitz


Author: Jason Seidling

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