-Greetings on a marvelously brilliant late winter day in Pittsburgh. Technically, it's still winter. At approximately 1:30 p.m. we switch to spring. It's sunny, in the mid 60s and completely devoid of clouds. It's an absolutely perfect day.
-We had an interview with a fairly prominent former Penguins this morning so we didn't have a chance to walk up from town. It's a shame because it's such an amazing day. But here are a few shots from our walk up from the Chatham Center garage. The southeast Consol Energy Center:
-God help the players if there's a hat trick today. Mini-sticks are the giveaway:
-Fittingly, Carolina goaltending coach Tom Barrasso still has one fan here at least:
-Some sights around the arena. An autographed Chad LaRose jersey:
-A game-worn Tyler Kennedy Wilkes-Barre/Scranton jersey:
-Paul Coffey with a 1990 All-Star Game patch:
-This is a bit out of place. Jarome Iginla Team Canada:
-This is never out of place. A Ron Francis Hurricanes jersey:
-Maxime Talbot Wilkes-Barre/Scranton:
-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Mark Letestu:
-Jordan Staal Peterborough Petes:
-Yet another Mike Rupp jersey:
-Is there some sort of Mike Rupp-centered cult we're not aware of?
-Evgeni Malkin is back in the lineup. The Penguins' scratches are Jay McKee, Maxime Talbot and Eric Godard.
-The Hurricanes' scratches are Cam Ward, Alexandre Picard and Cam Ward.
-Marc-Andre Fleury and Manny Legace are your starters in net.
-Malkin takes to the ice prior to the game under a spotlight. That brings a roar from the crowd.
20:00: These appear to be your lines :
19:35: Matt Cooke mashes Jamie McBain with a shoulder check into the boards in the corner on the left wing.
17:59: Jordan Leopold takes a pass at the left point, winds up and cranks a slapper wide on the far side.
17:07: Craig Adams snaps off a wrister from the right wing. Legace tips it into the opposite corner.
16:15: Cooke plays a puck behind the Penguins' net. Tom Kostopoulos steps up attempting a body check but Cooke braces for the hit and sticks the former Penguin on his wallet.
15:00: Five minutes in and niether team has recorded a shot on net.
14:49: Just as we finish that previous sentence, Jussi Jokinen moves into the slot and whips a wrister which Leopold blocks. The rebound kickis out to the right point. Brian Pothier collects the puck, moves in a bit and whips a wrister on net. Fleury has a clear look at it and eats it up.
14:23: Malkin sneaks up the right wing, makes a few nifty dekes through and around defenders, moves into the slot and releases a wrister with Alexei Ponikarovsky screening. Legace is able to make the tough save.
14:14: The Penguins get a little sloppy with the puck in their own end. Brooks Orpik loses the puck. Brandon Sutter picks it up in the slot and releases an immediate wrister which Fleury punches away.
13:37: Crosby rushes up the right wing, does a psin move in faceoff circle against McBain and whips a backhander off the side of the cage.
13:12: The Penguins are again sloppy in their own end and the Hurricanes make them pay. Joni Pitkanen is in deep and pursues a puck in the corner on the left wing. Mark Eaton takes a tumble in the faceoff circle and is out of the play. Gonchar vacates the slot and pursue Pitkanen. Pitkanen is able to flick a backhanded pass by Gonchar into the slot. Zach Boychuk is there all alone and buries the puck behind a helpless Fleury. We're not sure if Gonchar was mixed up by Eaton's wipeout, but he didn't appear to make the right play in that situation. Pitkanen and McBain get assists. Hurricanes 1-0.
11:16: Kunitz makes a nice play to keep the puck loose behind the Hurricanes' net. Crosby picks it up and from the left of the cage, he distributes to Leopold moving into the slot. Leopold snaps off a wrister which is wide on the near side.
11:02: Crosby snaps off a heavy wrister from the right half wall to the far side. Legace boots it out with his right foot.
10:05: Fedotenko chase down a puck on the left wing and dishes a cross ice pas to Malkin. Malkin goes to one knee and whips a big wrister on net. Legace stretches out to make the tough glove save.
8:25: Eric Staal enters the offensive zone, fakes a slapper, challenges Kris Letang and whips a wrister from the left circle. Fleury boots it out with his left foot. Oh and we forgot. You're keeping track of this at home:
7:27: With Cooke barging in, Jordan Staal whips a backhander on net from a tough angle on the right wing. Legace sweeps it into the opposite corner.
5:15: Here's a shocker. Ruslan Fedotenko gets bodied off the puck in the corner. This time, it's Tuomo Ruutu who did the deed.
4:34: Pothier chops a slapper on net from the left point through traffic. Fleury is squared up and makes the tough save.
3:33: Boychuk chases a down a puck on the left wing and whips quick wrister at the cage. Fleury boots it away.
3:06: Kennedy steals the puck in the offensive zone, spins in the right circle and snaps off a wrister wide on the far side.
2:00: Malkin snaps off a wrister from the right circle with a defender in his face. It sails wide on the far side.
0:00: End of period. Hurricanes 1, Penguins 0.
-We're not sure it's just another afternoon game which they always seem to admit a disdain for, but the Penguins sleepwalked through the first 20 minutes of this game. The effort was there, but they just weren't sharp.
-The Penguins had more than few missed shot. They attempted quite a but they missed more than they connected on.
-Additionally, they've had a few breakdowns in their own zone.
-We thought Fleury was pretty good. He had a few tough shots through traffic to deal with.
-Evgeni Malkin looked pretty good for a guy coming off a foot injury. He probably was the Penguins' most dangerous offensive player.
-Brian Pothier had a solid period for Carolina.
-The Hurricanes have a 9-4 lead in shots.
-Malkin, Pothier, Boychuk and Samsonov each have two shots.
-Here's a shocker. Joni Pitkanen leads the game with 9:49 of ice time.
-Letang leads the Penguins with 7:45 of ice time.
-The Penguins have an 8-5 lead in faceoffs (62 percent).
-Sutter is 3 for 4 (75 percent).
-Malkin is 3 for 5 (60 percent).
-Leopold leads the game with two blocked shots.
17:56: Orpik dishes out some free candy to Boychuck on the left wall.
17:48: McBain whips a wrister on net from the right point. Fleury gloves it.
16:53: Attendance is announced as 17,090. It is a standing-room only sell out. It is the 153rd consecutive sell-out for the team.
16:17: Gonchar snaps a puck up ice from behind his blue line to Kennedy at the Carolina blue line. Kennedy gets loose on a breakaway. He snaps off a wrister from just near the right circle. Legace traps it behind his legs.Just as the whistle blows, Kennedy goes snooping around and jabs the puck in to the net. The red light goes off. Officials immediately wave off the goal. Kennedy and Pitkanen start scrumming. While that's going on, Ruutu and Rupp begin their own scrum behind the cage.
15:56: Letang chops a slapper from the right point.
13:37: Kennedy gets another chance from the slot and rips it high of the cage.
13:17: Gonchar sneaks up the right wing and tries to tuck a puck in by Legace's left foot. Legace holds it out. A scrum ensue. Kennedy comes barging in and the pile falls over Legace and dislodges the net. Play is halted. Legace rolls over in discomfort. He takes off his gloves and starts to clutch is leg. A trainer comes to attend to Legace. Eventually, Legace recovers. He stays in the game. Kennedy is called for goaltenders interference. Jordan Staal, Pascal Dupuis, Orpik and Letant take the ice.
13:09: Penguin killer Ray Whitney chops a one-timer from the left half wall. Miraculously, Fleury makes the save. Generally, anything Whitney puts on net against the Penguins goes in.
12:28: Legace's ailment forces him from the game. He is replaced by Justin Peters.
11:23: Eric Staal has a chance in front but can't cleanly get a handle on the puck and pushes it juuuust wide.
10:51: LaRose is farming out by the Penguins blue line and gets a torpedo pass from a teammate in the Hurricanes' zone. He moves in on net, makes few dekes and eventually loses the puck and crashes into Fleury. Play is halted. Fleury appears to discuss the South American economic crisis of 2002 with LaRose. We think.
9:42: Fedotenko draws a penalty again. This time he's held up by Pothier along the boards. Fedotenko drew two penalties in Boston Thursday. Letang, Crosby, Gonchar, Malkin and Ponikarovsky take the ice.
9:16: Jay Harrison blocks a shot. McBain chases it down and whips it down ice.
8:57: Gonchar blasts a one-time from the right point. It misses on the near side and deflects to the other side of the cage. Crosby collects it and tries to lift a backhander by Peters. Peters is able to glove the shot.
7:42: The Pothier penalty is killed. The Penguins didn't really do much with that two minutes.
7:35: Fedotenko grips and rips a wrister from the slot. It misses high.
5:36: Crosby makes a neat move in tight to get by McBain and dishes a sick backhanded pass through the crease to Kunitz who punches the shot wide on the near side. Argh.
3:11: Manny Legace has been diagnosed with a "lower-body" injury and is not expected to return.
2:39: Patrick Dwyer rushes up the right wing and chucks a wrister on net. Fleury boots it out.
1:15: Pothier is sent off for holding up Kennedy. Rough time to take a penalty. Kennedy has been creating chances for the Penguins. Ponikarovsky, Letang, Gonchar, Crosby and Jordan Staal take the ice. Hmmmm... no Malkin?
0:29: Eric Staal pushes the puck up ice one-on-one with Gonchar. He initally beats Gonchar in the right circle, but Gonchar is able to lunge out and poke the puck away from Staal. What a play.
0:17: Crosby gains the blue line, pulls up at the right point and deals to Ponikarovsky streaks in up the slot. Ponikarovsky moves in with a clear lane to shoot. Instead of shooting he deals a pass to Jordan Staal deep on the right wing. Just as you're about to swear at Ponikarovsky, Staal lifts a wrister from a tough angle which beats Peters on the glove side. What a heads up play by Ponikarovsky. Ponikarovsky and Crosby get assists. The "Hey Song" is always heads up. Hurricanes 1, Penguins 1.
0:00: End of period. Hurricanes 1, Penguins 1.
Well, it got pretty darn exciting at the end, but that was another boring period. Neither team really has been pressing the issue offensively.
-Tyler Kennedy is playing a heck of a game. He's going to the net, getting shots off and he drew the second Pothier penalty through sheer work.
-Ponikarovsky continues to baffle and entice. He did nothing for roughly 39 minutes then BOOM! He makes that brilliant pass to set up Staal.
-We don't want to be that guy, but the power play did look pretty good without Malkin.
-The Penguins have a 13-11 lead in shots.
-Malkin leads the game with three.
-Pothier, Boychuk and Sergei Samsonov each lead Carolina with two.
-Pitkanen leads the game with 18:51 of ice time.
-Gonchar leads the Penguins with 15:17.
-The Penguins have an 18-16 edge in faceoffs (53 percent).
-Crosby is 8 for 13 (62 percent).
-Sutter is 7 for 12 (58 percent).
-Alex Goligoski, Leopold, Gonchar, Pothier, Pitkanen and Harrison each lead the game with two blocked shots.
18:42: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
18:15: Dupuis tosses a puck into the crease from the left corner. Crosby is there in front but can't re-direct it on net.
17:00: Malkin gains the blue line on the right wing, spins just above the circle and deals a pass to Fedotenko streaking just to the left of the slot. Fedotenko moves in and punches a shot right on net. Peters holds it out.
16:03: Rupp barges into the corner behind Brett Carson for a loose puck. The slam into the boards. Both plyaers fall backwards. Rupp falls down while holding the back of Carson's jersey. That's two minutes. Heck, that would've been pass inteference in the NFL. Jordan Staal, Cooke, Eaton and Gonchar take the ice.
14:59: McBain chops a slapper on net from the right point. Fleury boots it away.
14:25: Tough spot here for the Penguins. Jordan Staal is called for tripping Whitney. The Hurricanes will have 22 seconds of a two-man advantage. It looked like Whitney just fell over. Either way, the Hurricanes call a time out to get organized. Adams, Cooke and Orpik take the ice.
14:03: The Rupp penalty is killed. The Penguins still have 1:38 to kill off.
13:25: Whitney blasts a shot from the top of the slot. Fleury makes the save. Leopold chases down the rebound in the corner and whips it down ice.
13:00: Fleury boots out a slapper from McBain at thte right point.
12:25: The Penguin dump the puck down ice and kill off the rest of Jordan Staals' penalty. What an effort. Especially by Fleury.
11:34: Malkin gains the blue line on the left wing by deking in around a few players, winds up and chops a slapper which Peters eats up.
11:13: Erik Cole decides to make an appearance as he's nabbed for holding Goligoski at the left point. It's a bunk make up call for the Jordan Staal "trip" on Whitney we're thinking. Crosby, Malkin, Ponikarovsky, Letang and Gonchar take the ice.
10:46: This is just a penalty-fest all of a sudden. Goligoski is called for interference against Sutter. Four-on-four for 1:33.
9:41: Off a two-on-one, Crosby snaps off a wrister wide on the near side from the left circle.
9:13: The Cole penalty is killed. The Hurricanes have 27 seconds of power play time.
8:56: Fleury fights off a slapper by Pothier from the top of the slot.
8:46: The Goligoski penalty is killed.
7:30: Malkin collects a puck from behind the Carolina net and from the side of hte cage, eh tries to shuffle it in for a goal. But he rushes the shot and loses control of the puck.
6:55: Wow was that smooth. Fedotenko collects a loose puck in the left circle and leaves a little drop pass for Malkin. Malkin takes the puck and whistles a wrister to the far side over the glove-hand shoulder of Peters. Malkin looks up and points to the ceiling. Fedotenko and Ponikarovsky get assists. The "Hey Song" is always smooth. Penguins 2-1.
5:39: Jordan Staal whips a wrister on net from the left circle. Peters fights it off.
5:06: Eric Staal attacks the offensive zone straight on and snaps off a wrister. Fleury makes the easy save.
4:00: You just had a feeling this game wasn't over right? Eric Staal deals a puck from the right corner to Pitkanen coming from the left point. Pitkanen roofs a sick wrister over the stick side shoulder of Fleury inside the near post. What a shot. We're not sure Fleury had the right angle there. Staal and Whitney get assists. Hurricanes 2, Penguins 2.
3:41: Jordan Staal releases a shot from the right wing. Peters kicks out the rebound to the opposite wing. Guerin recovers the puck and puts a wrister on net. Peters fights it off with his glove hand. Tough save.
2:54: Dupuis slams McBain from behind into the boards. McBain goes down. Dupuis hit him in the numbers just as he turned around. Dupuis isn't buying the call. It's two minutes for boarding. That's the right call if you ask us. Big two minutes here. Jordan Staal, Adams, Orpik and Leopold take the ice.
1:47: Pitkanen chops a slapper from the right point which hits a stick in front and deflects out of play.
1:23: Orpik bodies a Hurricane off the puck in the corner and is able to chip it up off the boards and into the neutral zone.
1:04: Jordan Staal whips the puck down ice to kill off the rest of Dupuis' penalty. Huge effort by the Penguins.
0:02: Kunitz sneaks up the right wing and from the left circle, he snaps off a wrister which is wide on the far side.
0:00: End of period. Hurricanes 2, Penguins 2.
-The Hurricanes have a 25-21 lead in shots.
4:16: Fleury fights off a shot from Sutter in tight.
2:22: Crosby blocks a onetimer by Sutter from the right point.
2:13: Ruutu deals a feed from the righ wing into the slot. Cole is right there and re-directs it on net. Fleury fights it off.
1:45: Kunitz rushes into the slot and whips a wrister on net. Peters knocks it dead and covers.
1:35: Off the ensuing faceoff, Peters fights off a wrister through traffic from Gonchar at the right point.
0:32: Feodtenko bodies a defender off the puck along the wall on the left wing. He moves in on net and tries to jam it by Peters who holds it out.
0:19: The Hurricanes come up one a two-on-one against Leopold. From the right wing, LaRose puts a wrister off the far post. Yeesh.
0:06: Larose whips a wrister from the right circle which is booted out by Fleury's left foot.
0:00.9: The puck slides out to McBain at the top of the slot. He whips it on net at the last second (literally) and it beats Fleury high. Larose and Rodney each get assists. End of game. Hurricanes 3, Penguins 2.
-Well that wasn't cool. The Penguins were a heartbeat away from going to the shootout, a domain they have mastered this season and BOOM! the Hurricanes get a goal by a very narrow margain.
-That said, the Penguins didn't deserve a win. They allowed an undermanned Hurricanes team to control most of the overtime period and pull out a win.
-Don't discount the Hurricanes' effort in this game. After the game, Carolina goaltender Justin Peters described his team as guys playing for jobs. The might not have a realistic chance at a playoff spot, but that doesn't mean they're not playing for something meaningful.
-Bottom line: One team played like it had something on the line and it wasn't the Penguins.
-The Hurricanes' blue line is pretty much Joni Pitkanen and five other guys. But that unit was fairly impressive today. They really limited the offensive chances the Penguins saw and played a huge role in Carolina's offense.
-We're officially calling for Dupuis and Guerin to be switched. Put Dupuis back on the third line where's he a better fit and give Sidney Crosby a better scoring option on his wing. Just because Dupuis has had a recent hot streak, that should be a reason to take him out of a role better suited for his abilities.
-We like what Tyler Kennedy brought today. He had energy, he tooks some shots, got busy around the net and even drew a penalty.
-Has Ruslan Fedotenko become the new Michel Ouellet? In other words, no one other than the head coach knows why he's in the lineup and why he's on Evgeni Malkin's wing?
-Ponikarovsky had what seemed like a pretty typical game for him. He was tremendous when he contributed to the Penguins' goals but otherwise, he was hard to notice.
-The Penguins' special teams weren't a problem today. They got one power play goal and shut down all four Carolina power plays, including a two-man advantage.
-Marc-Andre Fleury? He didn't make the save which had to made on the Joni Pitkanen goal. It was a nice shot, but Fleury had a clear look on it and should've stopped it. Period.
-By Crosby's own account, the goal by Jamie McBain went off his glove and into the net.
-McBain's goal was the first of his career. A heck of a way to start your career huh?
-Malkin looked great his first game back. He had speed, some jump and he was very aggressive.
-The Hurricanes ended up with a 29-25 lead in shots.
-Evgeni Malkin led the game with seven.
-Brian Pothier, Eric Staal and McBain each led the game with four shots.
-Pitkanen led the game with 34:30. The dude doesn't leave the ice.
-Sergei Gonchar led the Penguins with 24:50.
-The Penguins led in faceoffs, 28-26 (52 percent).
-Crosby was 12 for 21 (57 percent).
-Brandon Sutter was 11 for 18 (61 percent).
-Brian Pothier and Alex Goligoski each led the game with three blocked shots.
-Jordan Staal's power play goal was his first of the season.