-Hey did you hear? Jordan Staal and Brandon Sutter used to play for different teams! At first, they were all like:
-Now, they're all like:
-Former players playing their former teams. The Staal brothers. ... We just need R.J. Umberger and a healthy Ruutu brother (Hurricanes forward Tuomo is healing from a serious hip injury) to make this a full-fledged EN meme fest.
-Jordan Staal was probably one of the 15 or 20 most important players in franchise history. He probably never got a chance to fully realize his immense potential here in Pittsburgh playing behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but that doesn't mean he didn't have a huge impact on this team. His defensive play made the Penguins one of the best penalty killing teams in the NHL. And let's not forget how Vitale he was in the 2009 Stanley Cup final:
-Our personal favorite Jordan Staal highlight? This pretty short-handed goal from his rookie season at the end of a blowout win against the Flyers:
-Brandon Sutter isn't Jordan Staal, but he's not far off. Frankly, Sutter, while not as talented as Staal, is probably a better fit as a No. 3 center than Sutter. His skill set just fits that role a little better.
-Staal and the Hurricanes are coming off a pretty flat effort against the Capitals Tuesday when they were shutout, 3-0. They've only won one of their previous five games. Despite being in first place in the weak Southeast Division, they need a win badly.
-They'll be getting a boost with a whole host of bodies returning to the lineup with Jeff Skinner, Tim Brent, Tim Gleason and Jamie McBain all returning from injuries. Skinner, Gleans and McBain are all big minute players for the Hurricanes.
-Skinner is coming off his second diagnosed concussion in his young NHL career. This is a pretty special player to watch. It would be a shame for NHL fans in general if his career were derailed in anyway due to his injury.
-Goaltender Cam Ward was actually pretty strong in Tuesday's loss against the Capitals. But based on some of the games we've watched this season, he has really regressed this season. Former Penguin Tom Barrasso left this past offseason as Carolina's goaltending coach. We wonder if his departure has hurt Ward's game.
-Speaking of regressing, the Penguins' penalty kill has to be better tonight. Giving up four power-play goals to the lowly Panthers is embarrassing. It should be able to keep the Hurricanes in check as they are only converting 15.7 of their power plays this season, but that's what we though would happen against the struggling Panthers.
-Not taking penalties would be a big help too. Putting any team, regardless of skill, on the power play seven times as the Penguins did to the Panthers Tuesday, is not acceptable.
-Jordan Staal will be on a line with Skinner and the always feisty Chad LaRose tonight. Our favorite all-time picture of Chad LaRose was with former Penguin Hal Gill in the 2009 Eastern Conference final:
-The Penguins' starters are Pascal Dupuis, Tanner Glass, Brandon Sutter, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scatches are former Hurricane Zach Boychuk, Simon Despres and Robert Bortuzzo.
-Scratching Despres is interesting. Perhaps Dan Bylsma feels more comfortable with him as an extra penalty killer than Despres. It seems like Bylmsa has used Bortuzzo whenever there an opponent has some toughness in the lineup. We wouldn't exactly confuse the Hurricanes with the 1974 Flyers.
-The Hurricanes' starters are Chad LaRose, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, Joe Corvo, Tim Gleason and Cam Ward.
-Their scratches are Zac Dalpe and Kevin Westgarth, the son-in-law of former Steelers coach Bill Cowher.
-Brandon Sutter versus Jordan Staal for the opening faceoff. Of course.
19:36: Jordan Staal controls and protects on the right wing wall against friend Brooks Orpik and flicks a backhander towards the cage. It hits off Sutter's stick and deflects on net. Fleury knocks it down and covers.
19:15: Eric Staal chips and chases a puck up the right wing. As he chases, Kris Letang shoves him down to the ice. That's two minutes for cross checking. Weak call. He nudged Staal in the ribs with his stick and Staal sold the call by going down easily. Sutter, Orpik, Martin and Craig Adams take the ice.
19:11: Off an offensive zone faceoff, Alexander Semin takes a pass above the left circle and whacks a one-timer over the net.
18:44: As Jiri Tlusty leads a rush up the right wing, LaRose runs into Orpik at the Penguins' blue line and knocks hium down. That's two minutes for interference. We'll have four on four for 1:30
18:13: Off a brutal turnover by Niskanen from his own left wing corner, Patrick Dwyer has a chance in tight but Fleury knocks the puck away with a poke check. Niskanen owes Fleury a beer.
17:42: Tyler Kennedy races behind the net off the right wing and tries to jam in a forehand shot. No dice.
17:31: After some hard work behind the cage, Kennedy distributes a puck to Beau Bennett in the left circle. Bennett lifts a wrister. Ward hugs it against his body.
17:15: The Letang minor is killed. The Penguins will have 30 seconds of power-play time.
16:44: The LaRose minor expires. Back to four on four. The Penguins did not record a shot on net during that brief power play.
16:18: Off a little cycling by Kennedy in the left wing corner, Matt Cooke swoops in and jabs a shot on net from the left circle. Ward steers it away.
15:13: Drayson Bowman makes a nifty move around Niskanen on the right wing and chips a wrister on net from a bad angle. Fleury holds it out.
14:59: Pascal Dupuis makes a lazy, brutal pass to the neutral zone. Skinner takes the pass cleanly, blows by the flat-footed Niskanen in the slot and attacks the net. Fleury holds out his forehand shot. As he's scrambling, LaRose crashes in but can't beat Fleury's right leg. Jordan Staal crashes in an knocks off Fleury's lid and play is blown dead. Some sloppy play by the Penguins early. Fleury has bailed them out.
13:29: From the center point, Tlusty lifts a wrister on net. Fleury knocks it dead and covers.
13:06: Off a drop pass by Sidney Crosby, Kunitz lifts a wrister from the left wing. Justin Faulk blocks it.
12:26: With the great Joe Vitale crashing in, Adams flings a backhander on net from the left wing. Ward gloves it. Tim Gleason takes exception to Vitale's presence and shoves him. A scrum ensues. Jay Harrison ends up getting a roughing minor against Vitale. The Penguins get their first real power play. James Neal, Crosby, Kunitz, Paul Martin and Kris Letang take the ice.
10:58: After former Penguin Tim Wallace washes out Letang with a shoulder check on the right wing boards, Kennedy has a chance in tight but is blocked by Bobby Sanguinetti.
10:26: The Harrison minor is killed. Not a lot going on there for the Penguins. They failed to record a shot on net with that two minutes.
8:14: After a furious rush behind cage by Crosby, Faulk keeps pace with Crosby and strips him of the puck with a nice stick on puck.
7:41: Orpik takes a pass at the left point and chucks a wrister on net. Ward boots it out with his left pad.
6:56: Semin lifts a clunky wrister from the right circle. Fleury bodies it away.
6:47: Crosby coasts up the left wing, surveys the offensive zone and sneaks a cross ice pass through traffic to Kunitz in the right circle. The pass is perfectly places and Kunitz whacks it into the cage by the glove hand of a helpless Ward. What a pass. Neal really created that chance by driving to the net from the left circle. That opened up space for the pass. Crosby and Niskanen get assists. Penguins 1-0.
5:16: Letang tries to body Jokinen off a puck behind the Penguins' net and is dropped to the ice by a nice shoulder check from Jokinen.
5:11: Tanner Glass flings a puck from the defensive zone out of play. That's two minutes for delay of game. Crosby, Cooke, Martin and Orpik take the ice.
4:50: Semin gains the offensive zone with some speed, cuts slightly to the right and from center point, rips a hard wrister on net. Fleury fights it off. Tlusty crashes in on the rebound and pokes it wide to the right of the cage.
3:23: McBain and Faulk play hot potato with the puck. From center point, McBain deals to Faulk above the left faceoff dot. Faulk hammers a one-timer which Niskanen lines up for and blocks.
3:11: The Glass minor is killed. The Hurricanes only generated two shots on net with that chance.
1:55: Bennett is on with Kennedy and Dustin Jeffrey. They force a turnover on the right wing wall off the offensive zone with some help of a broken stick for Harrison. That leads to a right-point one-timer by Martin which is blocked by Jokinen.
0:36: Letang fumbles a puck on the left wing wall of his own zone. That leads to chance for LaRose in the slot. As he chops a slapper, the great Joe Vitale dives forward to deflects it out of play with a stick on puck.
0:24: After some hard work by Eric Staal and Tlusty in the left wing corner, Semin settles a bouncing puck above the left circle, spins and whips a wrister towards the cage. Staal is just to the left of the crease and re-directs it by Fleury's glove hand. The Hurricanes earned that goal. Hurricanes 1, Penguins 1.
0:00: End of period. As the horn sounds, Cooke chases after Faulk with the puck behind the Carolina net. Harrison give Cooke a shove from the side and sends him falling into Faulk's legs head first. Adams goes after Harrison. All 10 skaters jump into the scrum. Harrison gets a double minor for roughing. Bowman will serve one minor. Adams gets a roughing minor as well. Penguins 1, Staal brothers Hurricanes 1.
-After that lousy start, the Penguins are lucky to have a 1-1 tie. If not for Fleury, the Hurricanes have a lead. The Penguins were sloppy with a lot of passes and didn't really offer much of an offensive threat beyond the Kunitz goal.
-Fleury was really sharp. He was challenged quite a bit and as we said earlier, really bailed his teammates out.
-If there's a positive for the Penguins, its that their penalty kill is off a solid start. It drew a penalty to nullify Carolina's first power play and really snuffed out any offensive chances the Hurricanes had on their second chance.
-Tyler Kennedy was one of the Penguins' better players that period. He created some turnovers with some huslte and even had one of the Penguins' better offensive chances.
-The Hurricanes have 13-9 lead in shots.
-Tlusty leads the game with three.
-Bennett, Cooke and Adams each lead the Penguins with two shots.
-Martin leads the game with 9:32 of ice time.
-Eric Staal leads the Hurricanes with 8:14.
-The Penguins lead in faceoffs, 9-7.
-Crosby is 7 for 10 (70 percent).
-Jordan Staal is 3 for 5 (60 percent).
-Letang, Deryk Engelland, the great Joe Vitale, Sanguinetti and Harrison each lead the game with two blocked shots.
20:00: The Penguins will have a five-on-four powe rplay to start the period on fresh ice. Neal, Martin, Kunitz, Cros by and Letang take the ice.
18:00: Two minutes later, the Penguins accomplish next to nothing with that chance. They had no shots on goal with that power play.
17:39: After an offensive zone turnover by Eric Staal, Sutter races up the left wing with space and speed an snaps off a wrister which clanks off the far post.
17:06: The Penguins combinations are all over the place. Jeffrey is centering Dupuis and Cooke. Bortuzzo is paired with Orpik. Taking point to point pass from Bortuzzo, Orpik flings a wrister from the left point. It goes wide of the cage.
16:04: The Hurricanes create something with speed. LaRose forces a turnover by Niskanen behidn the Penguisn cage with a strong forecheck. Skinner recovers the puck to the right of the cage and deals a feed to the crease. Staal and LaRose each have chance at it but can't get a clean stick on the puck. Fleury flops on top of the puck to cover it up.
15:57: The Hurricanes strike off the ensuing faceoff. Eric Staal wins the faceoff aginst Crosby in the left circle. Gleason whips the puck around the boards behind the cage. Staal recovers it and tries to jam it by Fleury's left skate with a forehand shot. Niskanen is late to the play and allows Staal to jab at it a few times. The puck comes free to the left of the net where Tlusty drives in and pokes it by Fleury's right skate. The Penguins skaters all looked asleep on that play. Staal and Gleason get assists. Hurricanes 2-1.
15:05: Drayson Bowman chops a slapper form the left wing. Fleury eats it up.
14:11: Dwyer controls a puck behind the cage and deals a backhanded pass but Bortuzzo to Skinner driving down the slot. Skinner takes the pas and lifts an easy wrister by the blocker of Fleury. The Hurricane are simply out-working the Penguins. Dwyer and Joe Corvo get assists. Bylsma calls timeout to get organized. Hurricanes 3-1.
12:18: Sutter chases down a puck on the left wing wall at the Carolina blue line and backhand poke checks the puck by Sanguinetti to the slot. Cooke is there and snaps a forehand shot on net. Ward fights it off.
10:29: Skinner controls the puck in the right offensive circle of the Penguins' zone. Engelland hooks him up. Skinner kicks his legs out in one of the worst dives we've ever seen. Officials aren't buying it and sent Skinner off for diving as well as Engelland for hooking. That was embarrassing and hilarious at the same time. Four on four for two minutes.
10:02: Off a little give and go with Martin in the slot, Dupuis snaps off a wrister which rings off the right post.
8:36: A wrister by Jokinen from the left circle is deflected wide by Niskanen.
8:29: Skinner and Engelland return to the ice.
7:43: Jordan Staal lifts a wrister from the left wing. Fleury gloves it.
6:35: Dupuis races into the offensive zone with the puck on his backhand, fends off Sanguinetti and flings a backhander over the cage.
6:08: After Martin forces a turnover in the neutral zone, Jeffrey lifts a backhander from in tight on the right wing. Ward fends it offl.
5:55: Jeffrey tries to push a puck up the left wing and is held up by Eric Staal. That's two minutes for interference. Kunitz, Neal, Crosby, Martin and Letang take the ice. The Sutters are a family:
4:47: Kunitz tries to jam in a forehand shot from the side of the cage. Ward holds it out. Kunitz and Neal crash in. Ward holds the fort.
4:26: Martin booms a one-timer from the left point. Ward kicks it out. The Hurricanes clear the rebound down ice.
3:55: The Staal minor is killed. The Penguins were credited with four shots on net during that two minutes.
3:40: The Penguins are nabbed for too many men on the ice. Bennett will serve the minor. Orpik, Glass, Adams and Bortuzo take the ice.
3:04: Semin cracks a one-timer from the left circle. Fleury fights it off.
2:58: Semin grips anrips a wrister from the left circle. Fleury battles it away.
1:39: Orpik shields Dwyer off the puck behidn the cage and whacks it down ice for a clear to kill off the rest of the team minor. The Hurricanes got two shots on net during that power play.
0:10: Another hard-working goal which started from behind the cage. Eric Staal blasts Bortuzzo off the puck in the right wing corner. Semin picks the puck up in the cage and deals a pass to Tlustly alone in the slot. Tlusty leans down and rips a wrister by the glove hand of a helpless Fleury. A poor defensive effort there. Semin and Staal get assists. Hurricanes 4-1.
0:00: End of period. Hurricanes 4, Penguins 1.
-It's not really a mystery as to why the Penguins are down. They're simply getting outworked. The Hurricanes are playing aggressive on the forehceck, , forcing turnovers down low and generating chances in tight. It's almost as if they're Dan Bylsma's team. They're playing just how the Penguins want to play.
-Combine the poor work effort with a continued sloppiness with the puck and it's a lethal recipe for the Penguins.
-The Penguins' power play has been really flat. It's barely even posing a threat to the Hurricanes tonight.
-The Penguins' penalty kill continues to be strong. That unit has not been the problem tonight.
-Bylsma has been mixing and matching his lines and defensive pairings quite a bit tonight. There seems to be some lack of chemistry as a result of that.
-Alexander Semin looks like he's been playing with Eric Staal his entire career. They have some tremendous chemistry.
-The Hurricanes control shots, 25-18.
-Tlusty leads the game with five.
-Kunitz, Bennett and Cooke each lead the game with three shots.
-Martin, one of the few Penguins playing a great game, leads the game with 18:28 of ice time.
-Faulk leads the Hurricanes with 14:00.
-Faceoffs are tied, 20-20 (50 percent).
-Crosby is 13 for 18 (68 percent).
-Jordan Staal is 9 for 15 (60 percent).
-Engelland, the great Joe Vitale, Letang, Sanguinett and Harrison each lead the game with two blocked shots.
18:29: Letang corrals a puck at the right point and flings a wrister. It hits a stick and deflects on net. Fleury snags it with a glove. On a defensive zone faceoff, Bennett lines up with Crosby and Kunitz.
17:25: Glass chops a slapper from the left wing. Ward kicks it out with his left leg.
17:23: Another power play for the Hurricanes. Vitale is nabbed for interference. He sort of tripped and slid into the back of McBain's legs while knocking the net off. Kind of ticky tack. Sutter, Adams, Orpik and Martin take the ice.
17:20: Off an offensive zone faceoff, Semin grips and rips a wrister above the left circle. Fleury gloves it.
16:37: Fleury fumbles a dump-in behind the cage. LaRose has a chance to the the left side of the cage but Fleury is able to scramble back into position to make the save.
15:40: Skinner lifts a wrister from the slot which Fleury fights off.
14:10: Kunitz controls puck at the left wing corner and snaps off a pass to Crosby driving through slot. Crosby can't get a stick on the puck as Faulk appears to have him tied up a bit.
13:10: Fleury tries to play a puck behind the cage but is tripped up by Skinner. That's two minutes for tripping. A goal here is pretty much a must for the Penguin Penguins if they have any hope of coming back. Crosby, Niskanen, Crosby, Neal and Kunitz take the ice. Niskanen instead of Martin? Hmm...
11:10: Two minutes later, the Penguins did zilch with the power play.
11:00: The great Joe Vitale races up the left wing and flings a backhander wide to the far side.
10:45: Bortuzzo's rough night continues. Bortuzzo fumbles the puck at the left point. LaRose takes it and forces pushes it up ice while being interfered with by Bortuzzo. That's two minutes. Bortuzzo tries to goad LaRose into a retaliatory penalty but LaRose isn't biting. The Penguins need to kill off another power play. Crosby, Adams, Orpik and Engelland take the ice.
10:08: Eric Staal booms a one-timer from the right half wall. Orpik blocks it.
9:12: The Hurricanes try to set up Faulk on a version of the "Whitney Play" on the left wing. He takes the pass but fumbles it a bit. It rolls in on net and Fleury gloves it.
8:45: The Bortuzzo minor is killed. Penguins didn't allow much there.
8:25: Sutter has a chance in the left circle and lifts a wrister over the cage.
6:25: With an icing call, the Hurricanes call a timeout to get a breather.
6:00: Paul Martin has not taken a shift this period whatsoever.
5:25: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Niskanen smacks a one-timer from the left point. Ward eats it up.
4:07: Off a re-direction pass from the slot by Kunitz, Crosby whacks a puck on net from the left id eof the net. . Ward stretches to his left and kicks it out.
2:30: Skinner snaps off a wrister from the left circle. Fleury kicks it out with his left skate.
1:55: James Neal grips and rips a wide open wrister from the inside of the left cicle. Ward appears to get a piece of it.
1:40: A fight breaks out in the neutral zone. Bortuzzo bumps Harrison in front of the visiting penalty box they drop the gloves. Harrison lands a few rights as Bortuzzo stumbles. Bortuzzo falls with Harrison on top. Harrison pulls up. Bortuzzo never really had balance in that fight and couldn't mount much of an offense.
1:26: Vitale snaps off a wrister from the left circle. Ward gloves it.
1:20: The Penguins pull Fleury. Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Jeffrey pounds a slapper from the left point. Ward eats it up.
0:17: Kunitz pounds a loose puck on net from the slot. It hits the left post.
0:00: End of game. Hurricanes 4, Penguins 1.
-We wouldn't worry folks. Generally speaking, Pittsburgh teams don't have stellar histories in PNC-sponsored facilities.
-Serioiusly, what a dog performance by the Penguins. Sloppy play or a lack of discipline are one thing but getting outworked is probably one of the worst sins in hockey. The Hurricanes earned every bit of offense they accumulated tonight and beat the Penguins.
-An update on Paul Martin's status:
Bylsma said Paul Martin, who was minus-3, did not play late because of an unspecified injury.— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) March 1, 2013
-Well that's not good. For what it's worth, Martin skipped yesterday's practice due to a "maintenance day."
-The Hurricanes' top line dominated this game. Alexander Semin, new to the team, looked like he has been playing with Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty for haf a decade. Their chemistry was very evident. Staal and Tlusy went ot he high traffic areas, forced turnovers down low and allowed Semin to display his offensive creativity. What an effort by that line.
-Were not sure what to make out of the Penguins' power play. It stunk obviously. But considering how hot this unit has been as of late, it was surprising to see it so flat tonight. And it wasn't like they were facing a great penalty killing team. The Hurricanes entered the game ranked 24th in the league at 76.7 percent.
-The goal by Chris Kunitz aside, the Penguins' first line generated very little for most of the night. Sidney Crosby was limited to one shot. The league's leading scorer needs to have more shots than that, especially with Evgeni Malkin injured.
-Give Jordan Staal and his linemates, Jeff Skinner and Chad LaRose, credit. They were matched up against Crosby, Kunitz and James Neal much of the night and limited their chances.
-Justin Faulk saw a lot of Crosby as well. He had a strong effort in limiting the Penguins' captain as well.
-Matt Niskanen didn't have a particularly strong night. He had a some ugly turnovers and just didn't seem sharp. It was a rare poor game by him.
-Robert Bortuzzo had an UGLY game. Hindsight is always 20/20, but playing the physical Bortuzzo instead of the skilled Despres against a finesse opponent like the Hurricanes is a curious decision.
-Oddly enough, after getting torched Tuesday, the Penguins' penalty kill pitched a shutout tonight. It killed all five power plays for the Hurricanes.
-Marc-Andre Fleury was fine. Held things at bay as long as he could. He had very little help.
-We wouldn't exactly says Cam Ward was challenged but he did turn away some quality chances from time to time. He earned this win.
-Perhaps running on some extra emotion, Brandon Sutter had one of the better efforts by the Penguins. He seemed to have a little extra boost in his skating and had one of the cleaner games for the Penguins.
-The Hurricanes led in shots, 29-27.
-Semin, Tlusty, Jeff Skinner each led the game with five shots.
-Kunitz, Neal, Beau Bennett and Matt Cooke each led the Penguins with three shots.
-Semin (5), Eric Staal (2) and Jiri Tlusty (5) combined for 12 shots. Neal (3), Crosby (1) and Neal (3) combined for seven shots.
-Kris Letang led the game with 29:25 of ice time.
-Faulk led Carolina with 22:55 of ice time.
-The Penguins controlled faceoffs, 36-28 (56 percent).
-Crosby is 21 for 29 (72 percent).
-Jordan Staal was 14 for 27 (52 percent).
-Jay Harrison led the game with four blocked shots.
-Letang led the Penguin with three blocked shots.
-Fleury (148) moved within five losses of tying Tom Barrasso (153) for most in franchise history.