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Penguins at Hurricanes - 02-25-11

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

PREGAME

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-Hey, guess where we are:

-No... not quite:

-Who else is excited? We're skeptical of bringing back Alexei Kovalev. But we have to admit. We're excited. Kovalev was and still is... just cool. The dude has his own jet. Other than Han Solo, who can top that?

-Him wearing No. 72 will take some getting used to.

-Oh... and forget "The Staals are brothers." You know "Kovalev used to be a Penguin" will dominate the broadcast:

x1.

x 2.

-Dan Potash gets in on the act:

-We think.

-The Penguins' starters are Alex Kovalev, James Neal, Jordan Staal, Kris Letang, Zbynek Michalek and Marc-Andre Fleury.

-Their scratches are Eric Godard, Paul Martin and Brett Sterling.

-Sterling? Really?

-The Hurricanes' starters are Jussi Jokinen, Brandon Sutter, Jiri Tlusty, Joe Covro, Tim Gleason and Cam Ward.

-Their scratches are Brett Carson and Jerome Samson.

-FSN Pittsburgh provides your lines and defensive pairings:

-Staal, Adams and Cooke are wearing the A's as alternate captains.

FIRST PERIOD

19:35: Jiri Tlusty tries to challenge Matt Niskanen one-on-one in the Penguins' zone. Niksanen wipes him out and knocks the puck away.

18:16: Well that's a buzz kill. Erik Cole pusheas apuck up the right wing against Zbynek Michalek, pulls up and deals a pass to Harrison sneaking in from the left point. Harrison rips it by Fleury who appeared to be tangled up a bit with new/old Hurricanes forward Cory Stillman. Oof. Cole and Jamie McBain get assists. Hurricanes 1-0.

17:46: And the Penguins take a penalty very early. Mike Rupp runs Jeff Skinner into the right wing boards in the Penguins' zone. That's two minutes for roughing. Craid Adams, Kris Letang, Michalek and Jordan Staal take the ice.

16:31: Cole lifts a wrister from the left circle. Fleury knocks it away with his glove. Maxime Talbot is able to steer the rebound away.

15:46: Rupp's minor is killed. Nothing much going on there for Carolina.

15:31: Matt Niskanen rips a wrister from deep on the right wing. Ward fights it off despite traffic.

12:33: Talbot chips a puck from the left wing off the side of the cage.

12:20: Out of no where, the Ruutus are brothers:

x1.

-We're pretty sure we heard the Staals were brothers somewhere in the broadcast:

x1.

11:56: Neail has a wrister from the left circle blocked by Derek Joslin.

11:38: x 3.

9:22: x 3.

6:49: Dupuis sneaks up the right wing and rips a wrister low on Ward. Ward kicks it out.

6:16: Off a turnover, Skinner rips a wrister from the slot wide to the left of the cage.

6:10: Joe Corvo pounds a slapper from the right point. Fleury punches it wide with his blocker.

4:53: Kovalev and Neal show a little unfamiliarity with one another as they try to exchange passes in a tight space in the right wing corner of Carolina's zone. They lose the puck and the Hurricanes pushe it up ice.

3:27: Cooke slams Joslin from behind into the boards. Joslin takes exception and gets in Cooke's grill. Cooke tries to drop the gloves but an official steps in. Joslin lookes like he may have been trying to goad Cooke into applying the bad hit. Either way, Cooke needed to be discplined there and not take the bait. Cooke is sent off for cross checking. Jordan Staal, Dupuis, Michalek and Letang take the ice. 

3:17: And it takes the Hurricanes all of 10 seconds to take advantage of Cooke's mistake. Corvo blasts a one-timer from the left half wall. Stillman is in front and appears to re-direct it slightly by Fleury's glove hand to the far side. Corvo gets credit for the goal. Joni Pitkanen and Jussi Jokinen get assists. Someone eating reindeer is happy as two Finns get assists. Hurricanes 2-0.

1:17: It doesn't take Kovalev to fit in with this group of Penguins. He's sent off for hitting McBain from behind in front of the Carolina net. Lovejoy, Michalek, Cooke and Talbot takes the ice.

0:00: End of period. Hurricanes 2, Penguins 0.

FIRST INTERMISSION


-Well that was a bit of a let down. Three new players in the lineup. One a beloved returnee to the franchise. And this is what the Penguins offer? Ick.

-The Penguins just didn't look to be on the same page whatsoever. Lots of sloppy passing. Nothing down low along the boards.

-Discipline continues to be an issue. Three minors in a period? Inexcusable.

-Kovalev had a few bursts where he was noticeable but he hardly stood out. He has 5:52 of ice time on six shifts and no shots.

-Neal looked a little lost. He has 5:08 of ice time on six shifts.

-We liked Niskanen's effort in the first period. He joined the rush a bit but not at the expense of his duties in his own zone. He had 4:57 of ice time on six shifts and one shot.

-The Hurricanes have a 9-6 lead in shots.

-Corvo leads the game with three shots.

-No one for the Penguins has more than one.

-Corvo leads in ice time with 9:13.

-Michalek leads the Penguins with 7:58 of ice time.

-The Hurricanes have a 7-5 lead in faceoffs (58 percent).

-Eric Staal is 5 for 5 (100 percent).

-Joe Vitale and Dustin Jeffrey are each 2 for 2 (100 percent).

-Pitkanen and Joslin each lead the game with two blocked shots.

-EN reader Damon Athens is on site and sends in some photos. A traditional Kovalev fan:

-What?

-Former Penguins/Whalers defenseman Ulf Samuelsson:

-: x 4.

THIRD PERIOD

20:00: The Hurricanes will have 43 seconds of power play time on fresh ice. Michalek, Adams, Dupuis and Letang take the ice.

19:16: As Kovalev's penalty expires, Eric Staal lifts a wrister from the left circle. Fleury eats it up. And...

x 5.

18:37: Neal gets deeps behind the Hurricanes net and forces McBain into a turnover with a hit along the boards. Tuomo Ruutu trips up Neal racing for the puck. That's two minutes. Great effort by Neal. Letang, Kovalev, Neal, Kennedy and Jordan Staal take the ice.

17:41: Kennedy snaps off a wrister from the right circle. Ward kicks it out. A defender plays it down ice.

17:26: Kovalev gains the offensvie zone on the left wing with an almost effortless display. Is there anyone better at gaining the zone on a power play?

17:11: Letang drives a slapper from the left point. Ward eats it up despite a screen by Rupp. Tim Gleason jabs Rupp with a cross check to the right hand/wrist. Rupp is smarting after that.

16:37: Ruutu's penalty is killed. Not a very organized effort by the Penguins.

16:13: Stillman chops a slapper from the top of the left circle. Cooke reaches out with his stick and deflects it out of play.

15:45: McBain is sent off for interference against Chris Conner. Kovalev, Letang, Jordan Staal, Neal and Kennedy take the ice.

15:39: From the left wing corner, Jordan Staal deals a pass to the crease.

14:55: Kovalev chucks a wrister from the slot. It hits Staal in front of the cage. Staal shuffles it on net with a backhander but Ward says no.

14:01: Jeffrey rips a wrister from deep on the left wing. Ward fights it off.

13:45: The McBain minor expires. The Penguins - Kovalev specficially - created quite a few things. It's almost bizarre to see the power play be a threat.

12:45: Coming back from commercial, Bob Errey suggest Kovalev soaks his hands in Palmolive:

11:11: Neal drops Corvo with a rough hit in the right wing corner of Carolina's zone.

10:44: Off a pass by Kovalev, Letang rips a wrister from deep on the left wing. Ward fights it off despite a screen by Jordan Staal. Staal can't get a clean handle on the puck.

10:27: The Hurricanes ice the puck. Head coach Paul Maurice calls a time out to get his team a rest.

9:01: The Penguins get a little sloppy in their own zone and the Hurricanes cash in. Eric Staal controls a puck in the right wing corner of the Penguins' zone and zips a pass to the slot. Cole finds an open spot in the Penguins' defense, takes the pass and taps it into the cage by the left leg of helpless Fleury. What a pass. Staal and Joslin get assists. Fleury is pulled for Brent Johnson. This really isn't Fleury's fault. Hurricanes 3-0.

7:15: Neal coasts up the left wing and deals a pass to the slot. Jordan Stala is there and rips a shot wide of the cage. He needs to get that on net.

6:28: Neals spins in the right circle and chops a loose puck on net. Ward fights it off.

5:20: Niskanen blasts a slapper from the left point.  It hits a stick in front and saws off the blade.

4:28: A Pascal Dupuis sighting! Rupp rips a wrister from deep on the right wing. Ward makes the but kicks out a rebound to the slot. Dupuis is right there and pushes the rebound into the wide open net for an easy goal. It's Dupuis' first goal since the Alex Goligoski era. (We think.) Rupp and Michalek get assists. Hurricanes 3-1.

1:26:  Niskanen coasts up the left wing and snaps off a wrister. It hits a skate in front.

1:09: McBain rips a wrister from above the left circle to the far side. Johnson kicks it out with his right foot. Eric Staal jumps on it and puts it on net. Johnson knocks it down and covers. As Staal released his shot, he appeared to get hit high by Niskanen. Staal is on the ice in a daze. He eventually recovers to his feet and makes his way to the bench. He takes a seat for a moment then makes his way to the locker room. 

0:36: Cooke snaps off a wrister from the left circle. Ward fights it off.

0:00: End of period. Hurricanes 3, Penguins 1.

SECOND INTERMISSION

-The Penguins were a lot better that period, but they're in the same two-goal hole as they were after the first periiod.

-Kovalev looked really engergized that period. He got a little bit more comfortable with his new teammates and controlled play.

-He has 13:36 of ice time on 12 shifts and no shots.

-Neal looked a little bit more comfortable to and created a few things with his physical play.

-The Penguins have a 22-15 lead in shots.

-Kennedy leads the game with four.

-Eric Staal and Stillman each lead the Hurricanes with three.

-Letang leads the game with 18:54 of ice time.

-Corvo leads the Hurricanes with 16:42.

-The Hurricanes have a 17-16 edge in faceoffs (52 percent).

-Eric Staal is 7 for 10 (70 percent).

-Vitale is 5 for 6 (83 percent).

-Corvo leads the game with three shots.

-No one on the Penguins has more than one blocked shot.

-Eric Staal will not return due to an "upper-body" injury. Yikes.

-Speaking of "upper-body" injuries, check out this dirty hit by Rangers forward Derek Stepan on Washington's Mike Green in tonight's game:

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THIRD PERIOD

16:05: After a stagnant first four minutes, Gleason snaps off  wrister from the left point Vitale lunges out feet-first to kick it out.

15:03: Neal makes a nice move in the slot to create a little space and rips a wrister high over the cage.

14:45: Deryk Engelland cranks a little slapper from the right point. Ward eats it up.

12:46: After Adams forces a turnover behind the Carolina net, Vitale tries to jam one in on a wraparound. Ward holds it out.

10:26: Jeffrey whips a wrister at the net from right wing. Ward appears to get a piece of it.

8:32: Niskanen cranks a slapper from left point. It hits a body in front.

8:24: Letang gets loose on the right wing and lifts a wrister from the circle. It hits off the cross bar.

8:17: Michalek taps a pass from the top of the slot to Letang on the left half wall. Letang cranks a one-timer. Ward gloves it.

6:50: Brian Strait knocks Tlusty off the puck on the left wing wall of the Penguins' zone with a hit into the boards.

5:32: Brandon Sutter backands a shot from the left circle. Johnson holds it out with his right leg.

5:07: Game. Set. Match. Letang tries to sneak up the left wing boards in the offensive zone. Cole takes him out and smothers him along the boards. That creates a three-on-one for the Hurricanes against Michalek. Sutter coats up the right wing and taps a pass to Jokinen in the slot. Michalek slides down to take away a low shot. Jokinen rips a sick wrister which toast Johnson by his blocker. Sutter and Joslin get assists. Hurricanes 4-1.

4:24: Lovejoy controls a bouncing puck at the top of the slot and cranks a slapper. It hits a stick and deflects wide.

3:11: Cooke slams Stillman into the right wing boards at the Hurricanes' blue line. Harrison trips up Cooke in response. That's a penalty for Harrison. Kennedy, Jordan staal, Neal, Kovalev and Letang take the ice.

2:15: There goes that power play as Kovalev is called for holding up Jokinen. Ugh. Four on four for 1:04.

2:02: Talbot rips a wrister from the left wing. Ward steers it to the corner.

1:11: Harrison's penalty expires. The Hurricanes have a power play for 56 seconds.

0:59: Letang tees up a slapper from the left point. Ward fights it off.

0:24: Corvo blasts a slapper from the right point. Johnson fights it off.

0:15: Kovalev's minor expires.

0:00: End of game. Hurricanes 4, Penguins 1.

POSTGAME


-That was a let down. Outside of a short burst in the second period, the Penguins were flat most of the night. They just didn't seem to have much urgency to their game. Add in the fact that the team has a few new bodies and a little bit of unfamiliarity, it's not an ideal situation.

-The Hurricanes were sharp. They're a much healthier team and they did a much better job at creating chances and cashing in on them.

-Penalties hurt the Penguins once again. And with Brooks Orpik out of the lineup, this team needs to stay off the penalty kill.

-All three of the "new" Penguins were okay. Kovalev had some moments, especially in the second period. He kind of disappeared in the third. Overall, it was the same Kovalev we're used to. He had 19:00 of ice time on 19 shifts with no shots on net.

-Neal was a little better than in his first game. He played the body quite a bit. He had 17:14 of ice time on 18 shifts and two shots.

-Niskanen has been pretty good so far in two games. Outside of one bad mistake in Wednesday's game against the Sharks, we have no complains about him. He has contributed in terms of creating things on offense but hasn't sacrificed much in terms of being responsible in his own end.

-Regarding Niskanen's hit which apparently injured Eric Staal, we didn't get a good look at it. FSN Pittsburgh had this weird overhead view of it from the Hubble Telescope (we think) so it was difficult to see how Staal was hit. We'll withhold future comment until we can get another look.

-Dustin Jeffrey return but was hard to notice. But we're not sure that's entirely his fault given that he was marooned on the third line. We understand he was coming back into the lineup after a long layoff so maybe teh coaches didn't want to give him too much, but he probably deserved to be on what is currently the second line before Max Talbot. Talbot just isn't doing anything offensively. Jeffrey was one of this team's most consistent point producers before he was injured.

-Fleury didnt' have his best game, but he's not to blame for this result. This loss was a team effort.

-The Penguins had a 34-21 lead in shots.

-Letang and Corvo led the game with five shots each.

-Letang led the game with 25:44 of ice time.

-Corvo led the Hurricanes with 23:44.

-The Penguins had a 26-23 lead in faceoffs (53 percent).

-Vitale was 7 for 9 (78 percent).

-Eric Staal was 7 for 10 (70 percent).

-Corvo led the game with three blocked shots.

-Adams and Letang each led the Penguins with two.

-Michalek recorded his 99 career assist.

-Dupuis passed up Duane Rupp for 75th place on the team's all-time scoring list. Both players have 104 points, but Dupuis (43) has more goals than Rupp (21).

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

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