-The Penguins have a chance at going 3-0 tonight. It would be the first time they've reached that mark at home to start a season since the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season. Much has been made of the goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury early on and justly so. He's been lights out. But the team's defense has been really strong as well.
-First, Rob Scuderi's return has improved the team's play in its own zone. He makes all these little plays with the puck out of his own zone which aren't spectacular but they mean so much in terms of keeping the puck out of the net. His presence has opened things up for Matt Niskanen too in terms of taking advantage of his skating ability. Scuderi freed things up for Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov during his time with the Kings. He'll presumably do the same thing for Kris Letang once Letang returns to the lineup.
-Second, there is a strong commitment to defense team-wide. A lot of that has to do with Jacques Martin who was always a strong defensive structure coach during his time with the Senators, Panthers and Canadiens.
-Much as been made of the hybrid icing early this season. All NHL players were given a chance to vote on the rule which was tested in the preseason and ultimately approved for this regular season. Based on informal polling, the Penguins' players approved the rule but the vote was close. Some players who approved the rule are having some second thoughts on their choice. There will be some growing pains with this rule.
-Like the Penguins, the Hurricanes are dealing with some major injuries. Defensemen Tim Gleason, Joni Pitkanen and forward Tuomo Ruutu are on injured reserve. For a team which doesn't usually break the bank in the free agent market, those injuries are huge, especially with regards to Gleason and Pitkanen who eat major minutes.
-Pitkanen's injury is a killer. He is out for the season due to a heel injury suffered due to an icing play last last season. In hopes of replacing him, the team signed Ron Hainsey. Hainsey is a fine player but there simply isn't any replacing his minutes.
-Cam Ward is in a similar situation to Marc-Andre Fleury. A first-round pick, Ward had early success with the Hurricanes and led them to a Stanley Cup championship in 2006. Since then, Ward has been dogged by health issues and consistency. Sound familiar? Unlike Fleury, Ward hasn't had the strongest team in front of him since that Cup run. Regardless, Ward hasn't had the results you'd like to see from a franchise goaltender. He's fully capable of reaching those heights again.
-We're eager to see Justin Faulk tonight. Last season, in two home games against the Penguins, he saw a lot of ice time against Sidney Crosby and did a pretty fair job of limiting the Penguins' captain. For whatever reason, defensemen like Faulk - the Islanders Andrew MacDonald and the Canadiens Josh Gorges - usually have some success against Crosby. Their ability to skate in quick bursts in tight spaces help them keep up with Crosby.
-We're also eager to see Radek Dvorak. He came into training camp on a tryout basis and got a two-way contract. He was a first-round pick in 1995 (No. 10 overall) but never really materialized as a top-six winger. Instead, he's carved out a long career as a strong defensive forward. He has the most short-handed goals by a Czech-born player in NHL history with 24.
-Dan Bylsma addressed the firing of former Flyers coach Peter Laviolette today. Basically, he said Laviolette's dismissal in Philadelphia won't impact Laviolette's status with the United States' Olympic team as an assistant coach. We almost wonder if this will be a good thing as the national team is concerned. First, it frees Laviolette to deal more with the national team. Second, it potentially eliminates any tension between Laviolette, Bylsma and Penguins/United States assistant Tony Granato. Even after their famous shouting match on the benches in 2012, the three remained chummy. Granato was a former teammate of Laviolette with the Rangers and Laviolette was a groomsman in Granato's wedding. But there was always going to be that barrier as coaches of two NHL rivals. This firing removes that barrier.
-Some pregame photos. The barn:
(Our panorama sort of "erased" that person on the lower left-hand portion of the photo.)
-Across the street (Fifth Avenue) there is a building with Fatheads of Evgeni Malkin, the Islanders' John Tavares and former Bruins forward Tyler Seguin:
-Former Hurricane Brandon Sutter is on the cover of icetime:
-The late, great Manitoba Moose are represented:
-Fans entering the barn:
-There aren't too many Hurricanes fans here. Eric Staal:
-Brooks Orpik Team USA:
-Former Hurricanes/current Penguins forward Craig Adams:
-Jordan Staal still has a Peterborough Petes fan here:
-Former Penguins/Whalers/Hurricanes defenseman Paul Coffey:
-Jersey of the Night: Former Penguins/Whalers center John Cullen:
-The Penguins' starters are Beau Bennett, Jussi Jokinen, Evgeni Malkin, Matt Niskanen, Rob Scuderi and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Deryk Engelland and James Neal.
-The Hurricanes' starters are Patrick Dwyer, Nathan Gerbe, Jordan Staal, Justin Faulk, Andrej Sekera and Cam Ward.
-The announcement of Staal's start was given a nice applause from Penguins' fans.
-Their scratches are Mike Komisarek and Kevin Westgarth.
19:45: The Penguins generate an early offensive chance. Off a give and go with Malkin, Jokinen rips a wrister from the left circle to the far side. It beats Ward's glove hand and nicks off the far post.
17:33: The third line creates a chance. Controlling a puck down low along the Carolina end boards, Jeffrey deals a little pass to Brandon Sutter positioned just to the left of the cage. Sutter jabs a shot which Ward kicks out. Chuck Kobasew has a chance on the rebound but can't get a clean handle on the puck.
16:57: Faulk collects a puck on the right half wall of the Penguins' zone and whips a shot at the cage. It hits a stick in front and deflects to the far corner.
16:43: The great Joe Vitale races up the right wing and pumps a slapper on net. Ward knocks it dead and covers.
14:28: Olli Maatta turns a puck over behind own net but makes up for it. As Jeff Skinner spins from behind the net, Maatta leans down to block his shot.
12:55: Crosby creeps up the right wing and tries to feed a pass to the slot for Pascal Dupuis. Alexander Semin backchecks and breaks up the pass. Nice defensive play.
11:20: The great Joe Vitale tries to hustles up the right wing for a loose puck but Dvorak holds him up and ends up knocking the stick out of his hand. That's two minutes for interference. Malkin, Crosby, Paul Martin, Jokinen and Kunitz take the ice.
10:46: A slap/pass by Crosby at the left half wall is deflected out of play by Patrick Dwyer.
9:20: The Dvorak minor is killed. The Penguins didn't really generate much with that chance.
8:52: Semin grips and rips a heavy wrister through traffic on the right wing. Fleury fights it off.
7:39: After an ugly turnover by Jordan Staal in his own zone, Jokinen deals a snazzy backhanded pass to Bennett. From the slot, Bennett rips a heavy wrister on net. Ward knocks it dead and covers. Jordan Staal owes Ward a beer.
6:46: Jay Harrison whacks a heavy slapper from the left half wall. Fleury boots it out with his right leg.
6:08: Harrison tries to steal a puck at the Penguins' right point but fumbles it and falls to the ice under pressure by Glass. He tries to hold up Glass but ends up tripping him. That's two minutes for Harrison. Crosby, Kunitz, Malkin, Jokinen and Martin take teh ice.
5:51: Pushing a puck deep into the Penguins' zone, Jordan Staal has a shot from in tight blocked.
5:43: Jussi Jokinen's revenge. After Kunitz pushes a puck up the right wail, Crosby takes it over and deals a pass to the slot. It appears to glance off Jordan Staal's stick but still deflects towards the cage. Jokinen is driving the blue paint. He gets by Dwyer and kicks the puck with is right skate to his stick. After that, he backhands the puck into the cage by Ward's left leg. What a pretty, albeit improbable, goal. It's Jokinen's first goal of the season and the Penguins' first score on the power play this campaign. Crosby and Kunitz get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 1-0.
3:27: Of a feed by Crosby, Dupuis has a wrister from the circle blocked by Bellemore.
3:19: The "Hey Song" is played again. Dupuis controls the rebound and from the right wing corner, he deals a pass to Crosby behind the net. Using the extra space behind the cage, Crosby is able to wait, wait wait then deals a pass to Kunitz in the right circle. Kunitz jabs a little shot on net which Ward fights off. As Dupuis is battling Hainsey for position, the puck, Ward tries to cover the puck. Dupuis somehow gets the puck to squirt under Ward and into the age. On-ice officials rule a goal on the ice but immediately seek a video review. The video review officials rule Dupuis kicked it in. The goal is waved off. We're not sure we could see evidence based on the videos we had available to us.
3:04: Ward covers a shot by the great Joe Vitale and a few Penguins scum ensues. Harrison and Glass are int he middle of it. Glass doesn't waste time and just drop the gloves. Harrison obliges. They trade a lot of little jabs. Glass lands two good rights. Eventually, Harrison staggers and falls into the right wing corner. This place gives Glass hardly a popular man last season, a rousing ovation. Both players head to their dressing rooms with fewer than five minutes remaining in the period.
2:59: Niskanen flings a wrister from the right point which hits Jokinen in the right circle.
1:28: Semin flies into the offensive zone and cranks a slapper from center point. Fleury bats it away.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Hurricanes 0.
-It wasn't complete dominance, but the Penguins quietly controlled that period for the most part. They had the bulk of quality scoring chances.
-The Penguins have a 12-8 lead in shots.
-Semin has been a strong player for Carolina. He's been solid in his own zone and he's challenged Fleury with a few strong shots.
-The Hurricanes' short-handed blue line already looks a little overwhelmed.
-At some point, the Malkin-Jokinen-Bennett line is going to score a beautiful goal. Some of their passes through three games have been spectacular.
-Maatta showed a lot of composure in the first period when he gave away the puck to Jeff Skinner. He stuck with the play and blocked Skinner's scoring chance.
-Glass did a lot to rehabilitate his image in that period. He forced Harrison into a penalty then won a fight against him.
-The Penguins have a 12-8 lead in shots.
-Robert Bortuzzo, the great Joe Vitale, Nathan Gerbe, Faulk and Semin each lead the game with two shots.
-Martin leads the game with 8:38 of ice time.
-Faulk leads the Hurricanes with 8:15 of ice time.
-The Penguins have an 11-9 edge in faceoffs (55 percent).
-Malkin is 4 for 5 (80 percent).
-Jordan Staal is 4 for 7 (57 percent).
-Hainsey leads the game with two blocked shots.
-The NHL offered an explanation as to why the goal call for Pascal Dupuis was overturned.
19:46: A shot by Scuderi is blocked by Faulk. Ward snags the deflection.
19:38: Nathan Gerbe tries to chip and chase a puck by Niskanen in the neutral zone. Niskanen holds him up. Officials blow play dead. Niskanen gets a minor for interference but Gerbe is given a minor for embellishing. He sort of waves his hands a bit after Niskanen touched him. That's a really ticky-tack penalty against Gerbe. We'll have four on four for two minutes.
18:57: The Penguins' shutdown pairing gets on the board. Brooks Orpik tees up a slapper from the right point. It hits off a stick and deflects wide on the near side. The puck hits off the end boards and deflects to Martin who is deep in the right circle. Martin is able to slide down and whack the rebound into the cage by Ward's glove hand. We have to imagine if the NHL was still using the old, deeper nets, that doesn't deflects to Martin. Instead, it would have hit off the end boards then the back of the net. Orpik and Crosby get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 2-0.
17:45: A slapper by Orpik is eaten up by Ward.
17:38: Gerbe and Niskanen return to play.
17:01: Attendance is announced as 18,451. It is the team's 289th consecutive sell-out.
16:13: Off a drop pass by Dupuis, Kunitz booms a slapper high over the cage from the left wing.
14:56: Malkin lifts a wrister from above the right circle. Ward snags it.
14:12: Jeffrey pushes a puck up the right wing, gains the offensive zone and rips a wrister which Harrison deflects wide on the far side.
13:45: The Penguins keep pumping puck on net. Crosby pushes a puck up the right wing fends off a stick check by Ryan Murphy and whacks a slapper on net. Ward fights it off.
13:06: Drayson Bowman pushes the puck up the right wing and is dumped on a vintage Rob Scuderi hip check. Oof.
12:21: Adams flings a wrister from the left wing. Ward snags it.
11:38: Niskanen takes another penalty as he holds up Gerbe in the Penguins' right wing corner. That's two minutes. Orpi, Adams, Martin and the great Joe Vitale take the ice.
11:30: Jiri Tlusty snaps off a wrister from above the right circle. Orpik deflects it out of play.
9:56: After some strong perimeter puck movement, Jeff Skinner tees up a slapper from above the right circle. Despite a screen, Fleury is able to trap it against his chest and freeze play.
9:38: The Niskanen minor expires with little threat from Carolina.
9:29: The Penguins nearly take a three-goal lead. Off a pass of the right wing wall of the neutral zone, Sutter drives into the offensive zone, attacks the net with the puck on his backhand. As he tries to flip to his forehand, Ward pokes it away with his stick. What a big save by Ward.
8:46: Dvorak tries to deal a pass from the right wing wall but has it blocked by a nice block from Maatta.
7:10: Faulk flings a wrister from the right point. Fleury fends it off. Gerbe recovers the rebound in the right wing corner and deals to Dwyer in the right circle. Dwyer rips a rising shot. Fleury eats it up.
6:36: The Hurricanes get busy with the puck in the offensive zone and cash in. Falk take a pass at the right point and golfs a slapper. It sails towards the cage. Eric Staal is battling with Orpik in the slot. As he takes a tumble, he is able to deflect the puck from his knees by the right shoulder of Fleury and into the cage. What a display of concentration by Staal. Faulk and Andrej Sekera get assists. Penguins 2-1.
5:09: Push a puck into the offensive zone on the right wing, Dupuis pops a quick slapper on net. Ward snags it.
3:35: Pushing a puck out hos own zone, Eirc Staal blows by Niskanen at the Penguins blue line. HE attacks the net and has a forehand attempt rejected by Fleury. Before Bowman can get a stick on the rebound, Niskanen pokes the puck away to the right wing corner. What a display of speed by Staal. It's hard to believe he suffered an ugnly knee injury in the World Championships.
2:48: Harrison flings a wrister at the net from the right point. Fleury kicks it out with his left skate and smothers it before Jordan Staal can get a stick on it.
2:39: Glass controls a bouncing puck in the Carolina zone and lifts a wrister on net. Ward eats it up.
2:00: Faulk grips and rips a wrister from the right point. Fleury fends it off. Glass is able to clear the rebound out of the zone.
1:31: The second line does creates another pretty chance. Malkin dances off the right wing wall by Semin. As Semin falls, Malkin is able to deal a pss to Jokinen outside the right dot. Jokinen lifts a wrister which hits off Ward's left shoulder and deflects out of play.
0:48: Orpik cranks a heavy slapper from the right point wide to the far side.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Hurricanes 1.
-For the first period and a half, the Hurricanes' top line of Tlusty, Eric Staal and Semin was held in check. The Hurricanes mixed it up by moving Bowman into Tlusty's spot and the Hurricanes got a goal partially as a result of that change.
-If not for Cam Ward, this is a more lopsided game. He's given his team a chance.
-Justin Faulk has a chance at being on the United States Olympic hockey team. He's doing quite a bit tonight to impress Bylsma.
-Maatta and Robert Bortuzzo are once again playing a quiet, dependable game.
-Niskanen had a rough period with two penalties and he was toasted by Eric Staal on a scoring chance.
-The Penguins have a 23-20 lead in shots.
-Faulk and Jordan Staal each lead the game with four shots.
-Fire Ray Shero.
-Jokinen leads the Penguins with three.
-Fire Jim Rutherford.
-Maatta, Niskanen and Jeffrey are the only Penguins' skaters who have failed to record a shot on net.
-Martin leads the game with 16:10 of ice time.
-Faulk leads the game with 15:51.
-The Penguins control faceoffs, 29-19 (60 percent).
-The great Joe Vitale is 9 for 11 (82 percent).
-Eric Staal is 6 for 9 (67 percent).
-Adams, Orpik, Murphy, Dwyer and Hainsey each lead the game with two blocked shots.
19:34: Taking a pass on the left wing, Eric Staal pumps a slapper on net to the far side. Fleury snags it with a glove hand.
17:34: Tlusty has a chance on the left wing but Maatta squares up and blocks the shot.
17:17: Brett Sutter rips a wrister from the right circle. Fleury stop it with his right skate. The puck pops up into the air. Fleury pokes it twice with his stick into the air then snags the rebound. THat was just plain cool.
16:47: The Hurricanes tie it up. Sekera sneks up the left wing and snaps off a shot to the blue paint. Fleury fights it off. the puck rolls to the right circle. where Gerbe is able to recover it and jabs it by the skate a slide Scuderi and by Fleury's right leg. The Hurricanes have just taken to the Penguins to start of this period and have earned the tie. Dwyer and Sekera get assists. Hurricanes 2, Penguins 2.
16:04: Off a feed by Crosby, Dupuis leans down and puts a one-timer on net from the right circle. Ward steers it away.
14:57: The second line finally breaks through. Malkin Wheels off the right poitn of the Carolina zone ot the center point. He deals to Jokine in the left circle. Joinen is able to lift s a wrister which blows by the right shoulder of Ward and into the cage. How did the Hurricanes give up on Jokinen and how are they absorbing a porition of his salary cap hit? Malkin and Maatta get assists. It's Maatta's first NHL point. The "Hey Song" plays. Penguins 3-2.
12:23: Maatta booms a lsapper from the right point which hits a body in front and deflects wide.
11:42: Maata booms slapper from the Ward fights it off. Dupuis is able to recover the rebound from the right of the cage but puts it wide. Crosby recovers it behind the cand atire sto tuck in in with a forehand to the right of the cage. Ward is able to keep with the play and hold it out this his glove hand while rolling on his back. The rebound slides to Maatta above the left circle. Maatta steps up and hammers a one-timer. Ward is able to recover to his knees and eats up the shot by hugging it to his chest and falling to his side. WOW! what a sequence. Penguins fans off a cheer. We're not sure if it's for Ward's effort but he deserved one.
11:36: Tanner Glass. Goal scorer. The great Joe Vitale wins a faceoff against Jordan Staal by pushing it forward. Glass is able to the to the puck first. He bets Murphy to the puck and puts a shot on net. Ward fights it off but Glass is able to recover the rebound and lifts a backhander over a sprawling Ward. What an effort by Glass. HE celebrates like a huge weight is off his shoulders. His strong play early continues. The great Joe Vitale gets the only assist. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 4-2.
11:07: Murphy booms a slapper from the right point. Fleury fends it off.
8:18: The Penguins can ice this game. Harrison is called for roughing Orpik. Crosby, Malkin, Martin, Jokinen and Kunitz take the ice.
8:03: Pushing a puck up the left wing wall, Jordan Staal uses Martin as a screen and snaps off a wrister which Fleury fends off.
6:57: Jussi Jokinen's revenge is now complete. Maatta leds a rush through the neutral zone and deals to Jokinen. From above the left circle, Jokinen cuts inside a stick check and lifts a wrister by the glove hand of Ward. Wow! The Hurricanes are seriously absorbing $900,000 of his salary cap hit? Maatta and another former Hurricane, Brandon Sutter get assists. Its the 200th hat trick in franchise history. Hats litter the ice. Fire Jim Rutherford. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 5-2.
5:16: Tlusty pushes a puck up the right wing wall and chips it in deep on a backhander at the Penguins' blue line. He gets blasted by Orpik with a body check for his trouble and is sent to the ice.
4:50: Martin is called for slashing while Bowman is nabbed for roughing. We'll have four on four for two minutes.
3:12: Off a nice give and go play, Matta springs a breakout pass from inside his blue line to Bennett. Bennett gets behind the defense and is off on a breakaway. He approaches the net and lifts a wrister over the cage.
2:50: Martin and Bowman return to play.
2:38: Bortuzzo is nabbed for tripping Gerbe. Adams, the great Joe Vitale, Orpik and Martin take the ice.
2:39: Off a faceoff win, Faulk flings a wrister on net from the point. Fleury snags it.
0:39: Two minutes later, the Hurricanes did little with that chance.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 5, Hurricanes 2.
-$900,000. That's what the Hurricanes are picking up in terms of Jussi Jokinen's salary cap hit this season. It was a condition of the trade deadline deal the Penguins made with the Hurricanes last season. Jokinen was struggling last season. The Hurricanes tried to put him on waivers in hopes he and his salary cap hit of $3 million would be snagged by another team. A long-term jaw injury to Sidney Crosby created an opening for the Penguins who dealt a conditional late-round draft pick for Jokinen. When you consider the Hurricanes' are eating some of his cap hit, it's just mind-boggling this trade was ever made.
-And when you see Jokinen shred his former team for a hat trick as he did tonight, it looks just downright stupid.
-Jokinen simply didn't get along with Carolina coach Kirk Muller. With a bloated salary and less than ideal production, Muller and general manager Jim Rutherford wanted him gone at almost any cost. After tonight's game, Muller noted Jokinen had a "big game" then declined a follow-up question on Jokinen's skillset by saying he wasn't interested in talking about him.
-In three games against the Hurricanes since he was traded last season, Jokinen has torched them for six points (five goals, one assist). He seems plenty motivated for them.
-Beyond Jokinen, the story of this game was the Penguins' power play. It came to life after being shutout against the Devils and Sabres. The Penguins - mainly Jokinen - were able to find some space in the offensive zone with the man advantage and they cashed on two of their three chances.
-Marc-Andre Fleury was strong once again. You could make a case he could have prvent the game-tying goal in the third period by Nathan Gerbe, but Fleury was dominant most of the night. It's only three games into the regular season, but he has quieted his critics for the time being.
-Of Fleury, his former teammate Jordan Staal said "It looked like ‘Flower.’ He was solid as usual. He’s a good goalie that makes it difficult to score on. I’m going to find his number one of these days. “
-Speaking of quieting critics, Tanner Glass had another strong game. He drew a penalty, had a few key defensive plays and won a fight against Jay Harrison. Oh... and he scored a key goal as well. The look of elation on Glass' face after his score said a lot. Dan Bylsma cited him as a player who benefited from having a true training camp after not really having much of a camp after the lockout last season. So far, Glass has been outstanding in his role.
-Olli Maatta continues to blossom. He was strong in his own zone with several blocks and breaks up of Carolina scoring chances. And he was very confident in his own zone. He wasn't shy about firing the puck and he recorded his first two career points, both assists.
-The great Joe Vitale had a few contributions as well. He created a few things with just simple hustle.
-Jokinen's second goal came on a five-on-five situation. He scored off a pass by Evgeni Malkin. Including Beau Bennett, that line has just been dazzling in the handful of games in terms of the creative scoring chances it has generated. Tonight, it was finally rewarded with a goal.
-It only generated one goal but the top line with Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz was really sharp tonight, as usual.
-Cam Ward deserved better, especially after that crazy sequence he made before Glass' goal. He gave his team every chance to win this game. The roof just caved in on him at one point.
-The Hurricanes' injuries on defense really came into play. They simply didn't have the depth to keep up with the Penguins.
-The effort was there for Jordan Staal. He was around the Penguins' net. He pushed the puck up ice on several short-handed chance. He just couldn't get the results.
-Eric Staal is still a very scary player. Given the mediocrity of the Hurricanes in recent season, you sometimes forget how good of a player he is. If he had just a little more help, he could be a Hart Trophy winner.
-Justin Faulk was one of the bright spots on the Carolina blue line. He saw a lot of ice time against Crosby and kept up with him for most of the game. He helped generate the Hurricanes' first goal as well. He needs some help though. He can't do everything alone.
-After a strong first period, Alexander Semin seemed to fade. Jiri Tlusty was a non-factor mostly.
-The Penguins led in shots, 36-34.
-Jordan Staal led the game with six shots.
-Fire Ray Shero.
-Jokinen led the Penguins with five shots.
-Fire Jim Rutherford.
-The Penguins controlled faceoffs, 44-27 (62 percent).
-Brandon Sutter was 12 for 18 (67 percent).
-Fire Jim Rutherford.
-Eric Staal was 11 for 21 (52 percent).
-Maatta led the game with three blocked shots.
-Ryan Murphy, Patrick Dwyer and Ron Hainsey each led the Hurricanes with three blocked shots.
-Jokinen's hat trick was the 200th in franchise history. It was the second of his NHL career.
-Glass has already tied his point total from last season with two points.
-Brandon Sutter has assists in all three games this season.