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|The Penguins put their foot on the throat of the Hurricanes with a 6-2 triumph Friday at RBC Center that has pushed Carolina to the brink of elimination and Pittsburgh on the cusp of a second consecutive appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. |
Carolina started the game with reckless abandon. They swarmed in the Pittsburgh zone and scored the game’s opening goal. However, the Penguins took the punches and bounced back with three consecutive scores in the first period, including two in the final minute, to turn the game around.
The Hurricanes scored a goal early in the third period to make it a 3-2 game. But Ruslan Fedotenko scored a huge goal to give Pittsburgh a cushion and crushed the Hurricanes’ spirits. The Penguins rung up two more tallied and rolled to the victory.
Pittsburgh set themselves up in great position up 3-0 in the series. History and the odds heavily favor the Penguins to advance into the Final, but the Hurricanes are not going to down quietly. Pittsburgh will have two days to regroup and will try to finish off Carolina on Tuesday.
|WHAT HAPPENED |
|(AP) -Evgeni Malkin had two goals and an assist, and the Pittsburgh Penguins pushed Carolina to the brink of elimination by routing the Hurricanes 6-2 on Saturday night. |
|SHOT OF THE NIGHT |
Sidney Crosby gave Pittsburgh its first lead with a late first period score (photo by Getty)
|What Worked Well: Star Power |
The Penguins superstars rose to the occasion once again for the team. Evgeni Malkin scored two goals and added an assist, Sidney Crosby notched a goal and an assist and Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 32 shots, including 17 in the third period. In a critical Game 3, Pittsburgh’s firepower was too much for the Hurricanes.
What Could Have Gone Better: Fast Start
The Penguins were overwhelmed at the beginning of the game as Carolina came out strong. The Hurricanes attacked the Penguins zone, challenged Fleury and scored the opening goal. Pittsburgh survived the pressure, rebounded and countered with three scores, including two late first-period goals to deflate the Hurricanes.
|Evgeni Malkin played another excellent game for the Penguins. He scored two goals and added an assist for a three-point night. He also recorded a plus-2 rating, 19:26 minutes, five shots and two hits. He has seven points (5G-2A) in the last two games. |
|SCORING SYNOPSIS |
|Carolina struck first in the game with a goal from Matt Cullen. Patrick Eaves had the puck in the near corner of the Penguins zone. He skated to the net and tried to jam the puck in. When that attempt failed, he swung around the net and made a centering pass to Cullen above the paint. Cullen buried the puck for the early Hurricanes lead. Carolina 1, Pittsburgh 0. |
The Penguins tied the game with a power-play goal seven minutes into the opening frame. Sidney Crosby flipped the puck into the Carolina zone. Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason tried to bat the bouncing puck out. However, the puck hit Evgeni Malkin and the Russian superstar twirled around Gleason, grabbed the puck and was one-on-one with goalie Cam Ward. Malkin deked and then went to his forehand for the tying tally. Pittsburgh 1, Carolina 1.
Pittsburgh gained the lead in the final minute of the first period. Chris Kunitz pushed the puck ahead to Bill Guerin. Guerin carried into the Carolina zone while Crosby drove to the net. Guerin pushed a pass to Crosby at the near side of the net that the captain batted in for the go-ahead goal. Pittsburgh 2, Carolina 1.
The Penguins truck again 31 seconds after their second goal with a tally with 12 seconds left in the opening period. Craig Adams chipped the puck deep into the near corner of the Carolina zone. Malkin picked up the puck, skated to the net and slipped the puck through Ward’s five-hole for his second goal of the game. Pittsburgh 3, Carolina 1.
The Hurricanes cut into the Penguins’ lead with a goal two minutes into the third period. Carolina won a faceoff in the Pittsburgh zone and worked the puck to Erik Cole in the lower near circle. Cole took a shot that Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out. But Sergei Samsonov buried the rebound far side into the goal. Pittsburgh 3, Carolina 2.
Pittsburgh regained a two-goal lead halfway through the third period. Malkin carried the puck down the middle of the ice and dropped it to Ruslan Fedotenko. Malkin went hard to the net, forcing the Hurricanes defense back and giving Fedotenko room to skate into the slot. Fedotenko got Ward to drift to his right and then threw a wrist shot against the grain over his glove hand. Pittsburgh 4, Carolina 2.
Craig Adams sealed the victory with an empty-net goal scored right off of a faceoff. The faceoff took place at the near red dot on the Penguins end of neutral ice. Adams pushed the puck forward and it trickled all the way across the goal line. Pittsburgh 5, Carolina 2.
The Penguins tacked on another goal with 1:08 left in regulation. Fedotenko skated down the near side and centered to Bill Guerin in the slot. Guerin stopped the puck threw a backhander past the glove of Ward. Pittsburgh 6, Carolina 2.
|INTRIGUING NOTABLES |
|The Penguins once again dressed seven defensemen and 11 forwards for the contest. Pittsburgh scratched forwards Pascal Dupuis, Petr Sykora and Eric Godard and defenseman Alex Goligoski. Carolina’s Tumo Ruutu, who missed Game 2 with an injury, returned to the lineup. |
A large contingent of Penguins fans flooded the RBC Center. There were large packs of black and gold visible among the sea of red. My unscientific guess would be that 30 to 35 percent of the crowd was cheering for Pittsburgh. A loud chant of “Let’s go Pens!” rang out in the game’s final two minutes.
|GAME NOTES |
|> Pittsburgh leads its Eastern Conference Finals series against Carolina, 3-0, and is 5-3 on the road in this postseason. |
> Head coach Dan Bylsma has a career postseason record of 11-5.
> Scoring Summary:
CAR, M.Cullen (3), 4:06 1st period: Hurricanes 1, Penguins 0
PIT, E.Malkin PP (11), 6:50 1st period: Penguins 1, Hurricanes 1
PIT, S.Crosby (14), 19:17 1st period: Penguins 2, Hurricanes 1
PIT, E.Malkin (12), 19:48 1st period: Penguins 3, Hurricanes 1
CAR, S.Samsonov (5) 1:58 3rd period: Penguins 3, Hurricanes 2
PIT, R.Fedotenko (5), 11:29 3rd period: Penguins 4, Hurricanes 2
PIT, C.Adams (2), 18:12 3rd period: Penguins 5, Hurricanes 2
PIT, B.Guerin PP (6), 18:52 3rd period: Penguins 6, Hurricanes 2
> Sidney Crosby recorded a goal and an assist and has 26 postseason points (14G-12A). Crosby has 20 points (12G-8A) in his last 11 games and has a point in 14 of 16 playoff games.
> Evgeni Malkin, the NHL’s Art Ross champion, recorded two goals and an assist in the game and now has a league-leading 28 points in the postseason (12G-16A). Malkin has recorded multi points in his last six games, totaling 16 (7G-9A).
> Marc-Andre Fleury made 32 saves in the victory, including 17 in the third period.
> Four Penguins recorded two points in the contest, including Bill Guerin (1G-1A), Ruslan Fedotenko (1G-1A), Craig Adams (1G-1A) and Sergei Gonchar (2A).
|THREE STARS ||QUOTE OF THE NIGHT |
| || |
|1. E.Malkin, PIT |
2. S.Crosby, PIT
3. C.Kunitz, PIT
|"Both guys are playing incredible, just awesome. Let's hope they |
can keep going that way."
- Marc-Andre Fleury on Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin