The Pittsburgh Penguins will admit that their 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at CONSOL Energy Center Tuesday wasn’t pretty.
After scoring the first goal in the contest, the Penguins watched as the Hurricanes scored four unanswered goals.
Captain Sidney Crosby admitted after the game that the Penguins were not playing their best hockey.
“We turned the puck over,” Crosby said. “They were playing aggressive. We were playing pretty loose and taking a lot of chances. If you don’t execute the puck will end up going the other way. They were aggressive. We didn’t execute well and it made it for a long night for everyone.”
Chris Kunitz scored the Penguins’ only goal nine minutes into the game. Crosby dished the puck to linemate Lee Stempniak, who found Kunitz. Kunitz then took a quick shot that appeared to bounce off Carolina’s Ron Hainsey’s stick and into the net past Carolina goaltender Anton Khudobin.
The Penguins would hold onto that 1-0 lead for 5:38, but then were tied 1-1 after an unassisted Justin Faulk goal. Nineteen-year-old Elias Lindholm would go on to score two more goals for the Canes in the second period. Captain Eric Staal scored the fourth goal in the latter half of the third period.
Even though the Hurricanes are not in playoff contention, they came out swinging and the Penguins had no answer.
“It doesn’t matter what team you play,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said, “If you play a team in the bottom of the standings, if you’re not 100 percent they can expose you and make you look pretty silly, and that’s what happened here tonight.”
The Penguins now leave for a three game Western Conference road trip with stops in Winnipeg, Minnesota and Colorado.
“There is not much good to take out (tonight’s game)”, Crosby said. “Just make sure we respond the next game.”
The Need to Play a Full Game
The Penguins had a skid during their last homestand when they lost three out of the four games, all against the Western Conference. The Penguins players admitted the need to play better. Then, they did against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks picking up two crucial wins and claiming their playoff spot.
Tuesday against Carolina was more of the same, but not from the positive end. Crosby said after the game that the work ethic was there for the first 10 minutes, but quickly went away for the remaining 50 minutes of the game.
“We all felt like the first 10 (minutes) we were carrying the play,” Crosby explained. “The shots were pretty evident of that. For whatever reason we got away from that. Maybe (we) thought that came easy or thought we could get away with cheating. It didn’t work.”
Orpik agreed and said that after the first 10 minutes, the Penguins fell apart.
“It was just turnovers,” Orpik explained. “The first 10 minutes were great and then our effort the last 50 minutes was unacceptable, 1-20. Every guy was getting beat on loose pucks and battles. That first 10 minutes we played the right way and they couldn’t keep up with us, so disappointing.”
Crosby Gets 100th Point of the Season
With the secondary assist on the Penguins’ only goal, Crosby has reached 100 points for the fifth time in his career and for the first time since 2009-10.
After the game, Crosby brushed the number off, saying that he would have preferred his 100th point come with a win.
“It’s a number. It’s nice,” Crosby said. “I don’t think you go into seasons thinking about that. It’s nice when you get the opportunity to do it. It’s a lot better when you win.”
Of Crosby’s 100 points, 36 are goals. He now holds a 17-point lead over Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf (83) in the NHL scoring race.