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Aftermath: Penguins 7, Hurricanes 4

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
  
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QUICK ANALYSIS
 
This game was all about one player: Evgeni Malkin. The Russian forward took his already stellar play to another level. Malkin was a man determined to will his Penguins to victory and he did just that, recording his first career postseason hat trick and four-point playoff game.

It was a back-and-forth battle that featured four lead changes and two teams that refused to quit. Every time the Penguins took the lead, the Hurricanes quickly countered to tie the game. It was a 4-4 game in the third period and the result could have gone either way. That’s when Malkin scored his last two goals and Pittsburgh added an empty-netter to pull off the 7-4 victory.

The Penguins handled their business by winning the first two games of the series at home. Now the contest turns to Carolina. The Hurricanes would love to win the next two in Raleigh to keep the series even. Conversely, Pittsburgh would love to at least split in Carolina and really back the Hurricanes into a corner.
 
WHAT HAPPENED
 
(AP) - Evgeni Malkin put Pittsburgh ahead for good by scoring twice in the third period of his first three-goal playoff performance and the Penguins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 7-4 Thursday night to open a two-game lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
 
SHOT OF THE NIGHT

Evgeni Malkin tosses the stick he used to score his first career playoff hat trick to a lucky fan
(photo by Getty)
ESSENTIALS
 
What Worked Well: Composure
The Penguins lost a few leads during the contest. To the Hurricanes credit, they refused to quit. They battled back and were able to tie the game on several occasions. It was frustrating for the Pittsburgh but the team never lost its cool. The Penguins stuck to their game plan and in the end they were victorious.

What Could Have Gone Better: Building Momentum
The Penguins had leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 4-3. Each time the Hurricanes quickly countered with a goal to tie the game. Pittsburgh couldn’t build on the momentum of the goals because of how fast Carolina was able to even the contest. But the Penguins never quit and eventually they were able to pull away from the Hurricanes' reach and record the win.
 
DIFFERENCE MAKER
 
Evgeni Malkin came up big for the Penguins when his team needed him the most. Malkin recorded his first career hat trick and added an assist for a four-point game. Malkin’s last two goals broke a 4-4 tie and elevated Pittsburgh to a victory.
 
SCORING SYNOPSIS
 
The Penguins scored the contest’s opening goal just two minutes after the puck dropped. Bill Guerin dumped the puck behind the Carolina net. Chris Kunitz grabbed it, skated over the goal line and sent a cross-crease pass through the legs of Scott Walker and right to Sidney Crosby. Crosby one-timed a shot into the netting for the goal. Pittsburgh 1, Carolina 0.

The Hurricanes tied the game with a goal just 76 seconds after Pittsburgh opened the scoring. Eric Staal carried the puck from behind the Pittsburgh goal and sent a turning shot towards the net. Marc-Andre Fleury made the initial save but Chad LaRose hammered in the rebound. Pittsburgh 1, Carolina 1.

The Penguins regained the lead thanks to some great cycling work by the Matt Cooke-Jordan Staal-Tyler Kennedy line. The trio held the puck in the Carolina zone for an extended period. Kennedy skated the puck from behind the net and tried to jam it through Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward. Though his initial try was stopped, Evgeni Malkin – who just jumped on the ice for Staal – came racing from the bench to the front of the net and pushed the loose puck across the goal line. Pittsburgh 2, Carolina 1.

The Hurricanes quickly answered with another tying tallying, this time 25 seconds after Pittsburgh scored. Scott Walker skated hard to the net and tried to force the puck into the goal. Jussi Jokinen was able to sneak the rebound through Fleury’s five-hole. Pittsburgh 2, Carolina 2.

Carolina gained its first lead of the series halfway through the first period. Dennis Seidenberg intercepted an errant pass at the midpoint of the Penguins zone. His slap shot found its way through a screen and into the goal. Carolina 3, Pittsburgh 2.

The Penguins caught Carolina in a line change to pull even three minutes into the second period. The puck was in the near corner of the Penguins zone when the Hurricanes switched their lines. Crosby threw a hard pass up the boards to Malkin at the red line. Malkin re-directed the puck to Maxime Talbot in the neutral zone, sending him on a semi breakaway as the Hurricanes players raced into the play. Talbot unleashed a slap shot into the netting for the goal. Pittsburgh 3, Carolina 3.

Chris Kunitz snapped his 14-game playoff goal drought with a huge tally with seven seconds left in the second period. There was a scrum in the near corner of the Carolina zone. Kunitz skated out with the puck, spun around the near faceoff dot and whipped a shot past Ward on the short side. Pittsburgh 4, Carolina 3.

The Hurricanes tied the game with a score two minutes into the third period. Ryan Bayda had the puck below the Penguins goal line. He made a pass to Patrick Eaves in the near circle. Eaves lifted a shot into the top right corner. Pittsburgh 4, Carolina 4.

The Penguins gained their fourth lead of the game on Malkin’s second score. Malkin danced with the puck in the Carolina zone before dropping it to Kunitz at the near point. Kunitz put the puck on net and Malkin had two rebound shots from the side of the net. He lifted his second attempt over the sprawled body of Ward. Pittsburgh 5, Carolina 4.

Malkin finished off one of the best individual plays of the year to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead and record his first career postseason hat trick. Malkin took the faceoff, retrieved puck, skated around the goal and lifted a sick backhand shot from a bad angle over the shoulder of Ward. Pittsburgh 6, Carolina 4.

Tyler Kennedy scored an empty-net goal to seal the victory for the Penguins. Pittsburgh 7, Carolina 4.
 
INTRIGUING NOTABLES
 
The Penguins stuck with their strategy of dressing seven defensemen, 11 forwards and double shifting their centers on the fourth line. The regulars out of the lineup for Pittsburgh were forwards Pascal Dupuis, Petr Sykora and Eric Godard and defenseman Alex Goligoski.
 
GAME NOTES
 
> Pittsburgh leads its Eastern Conference Finals series against Carolina, 2-0, and is 6-2 at Mellon Arena in this postseason.

> Head coach Dan Bylsma has a career postseason record of 10-5.

> Scoring Summary:
PIT, S.Crosby (13), 1:51 1st period: Penguins 1, Hurricanes 0
CAR, C.LaRose (4), 3:07 1st period: Penguins 1, Hurricanes 1
PIT, E.Malkin (8), 8:15 1st period: Penguins 2, Hurricanes 1
CAR, J.Jokinen (7), 8:40 1st period: Penguins 2, Hurricanes 2
CAR, D.Seindenberg (1), 12:10 1st period: Hurricanes 3, Penguins 2
PIT, M.Talbot (3), 3:11 2nd period: Penguins 3, Hurricanes 3
PIT, C.Kunitz (1), 19:52 2nd period: Penguins 4, Hurricanes 3
CAR, P.Eaves (1), 2:35 3rd period: Penguins 4, Hurricanes 4
PIT, E.Malkin (9), 8:50 3rd period: Penguins 5, Hurricanes 4
PIT, E.Malkin (10), 12:26 3rd period: Penguins 6, Hurricanes 4
PIT, T.Kennedy (3), 18:11 3rd period: Penguins 7, Hurricanes 4

> Evgeni Malkin, the NHL’s Art Ross champion, recorded a hat trick and added an assist in the game and now has a league-leading 25 points in the postseason (10G-15A). It was his first career playoff hat trick. Malkin has five straight mulit-point games.

> Sidney Crosby recorded a goal and an assist and has 24 postseason points (13G-11A). Crosby has 18 points (11G-7A) in his last 10 games and has a point in 13 of 15 playoff games.

> Crosby scored the game opening goal, his sixth such of the playoffs. That mark ties an NHL single-season postseason record with Chicago’s Bobby Hull (1962) and Edmonton’s Fernando Pisani (2006).

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves in the victory.

> Chris Kunitz snapped a personal 22-game postseason goal-less streak with his first tally of the playoffs. He also had two assists for three points and a plus-3 rating.

> Matt Cooke notched a career-high three postseason assists and points in a game.

> Mellon Arena sold out for the 115th straight game with a standing room only attendance of 17,132. The Penguins sold out every game in the past two seasons. Pittsburgh is 75-31-9 during that span.
 
THREE STARS QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
   
1. E.Malkin, PIT
2. C.Kunitz, PIT
3. S.Crosby, PIT
"I feel awesome. We won and are (up) 2-0. I try to play every game hard.
Coach helped me because we talked before the game. I'm trying to get
better every game."
- Evgeni Malkin
 

 


Author: Sam Kasan

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