The Penguins extended their winning streak to three games with a 2-1 shootout victory against the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night at CONSOL Energy Center. Evgeni Malkin
scored the lone goal for Pittsburgh and added a shootout tally, James Neal
scored the game-deciding shootout goal and Marc-Andre Fleury
made 25 saves, several from close range, to lead the Pens to victory.
“It’s huge, especially at home,” Neal said of the victory. “Don’t want to come home and be too comfortable. We need to make this building tough to play in. So coming off the road, we did a good job there, and it was good to come home and get a win.”
In the shootout, Malkin opened the scoring with a beautiful deke and slipped a backhander under the glove of goaltender Cam Ward.
Jussi Jokinen responded by notching his own score on the shootout to tie it at 1-1.
Neal was the final shooter for Pittsburgh. He deked, stayed on the forehand and snapped a shot blocker side behind Ward to put the Pens on the cusp of triumph.
“I usually have something in my head, but I kind of switched it up at the end there,” Neal said. “I usually try to get a read on the goalies. It’s tough when Geno’s shooting ahead of you and he’s making those kinds of moves. It’s tough to get a read on the goalie. I just tried to go with what’s open and it worked out.”
It was up to Fleury to stop Hurricanes captain Eric Staal to clinch the victory. Fleury tipped the puck as Staal got close on goal. Staal stayed with it and got a shot off. Fleury made a split to get his pad on the puck to preserve the Pittsburgh win.
“He’s a guy that usually likes to go for the shot, low blocker or five-hole,” Fleury said. “I think he knows I know, you know? So he got thinking a little bit back there. But it got a piece of my stick and I wasn’t sure if that was it, but he still shot it so I’m just glad it didn’t go in.”
Malkin continued his domination of the league with a exquisite goal in the final minute of the first period to tie the game at 1-1.
Malkin intercepted a clearing attempt by Staal in the Carolina zone. He then carried the puck straight to the net and roofed a hard shot from a severe angle that ripped the water bottle.
“It was a pretty lucky goal because the puck bounced,” Malkin said. “Staal played it and missed. I just picked it up and it’s close to a breakaway. I just looked at Ward coming down and shot high.”
With the point, Malkin pulled into a tie, maybe temporarily, for the NHL scoring lead with 52 points on 22 goals and 30 assists (tied with Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin, who played later this night).
“Everyone you talk to says with an ACL, it takes you 12 months to recover,” defenseman Brooks Orpik
said. “So if this isn't 100 percent for him, it’s pretty scary. This is as well as he’s played in a long time.”
“Absolutely. Maybe I would adjust for the playoffs in ’09. He certainly played great in the Carolina series and Detroit, so he’s played some really good hockey. But I think in terms of the regular season and playing offensively, playing with the puck, playing defensively, faceoffs – he’s getting a lion’s share of the responsibilities right now in a lot of areas and is playing outstanding. When you see him go down and block a shot in there and get thepuck back, I was hoping he could stuff that one home to get the blocked shot and then go back the other way and get the game winner.
Things got feisty in the third period following a devastating open-ice hit by defenseman Brooks Orpik
on Jeff Skinner.
Orpik came with speed through the neutral zone and knocked Skinner to the ice. The Canes center lay motionless for some time as athletic trainers attended to him. Skinner was able to get to his feet and head to the locker room.
Skinner would later return to the ice.
A few milestones of note… Tyler Kennedy
played in his 300th career NHL gamePaul Martin
recorded his 200th career NHL point (assist)
Author: Sam Kasan