Observations from the Penguins' 5-0 win against the Hurricanes.
First things first. There was no update on defenseman David Warsofsky who appeared to suffer a potential head injury late in the third period.
With 6:58 left in regulation, as Warsofsky was skating backwards defending an offensive rush by the Hurricanes, referee Tim Peel lost an edge and slid into the back of Warsofsky. Appearing to be totally oblivious to Peel, Warsofsky collided with him and flipped backwards landing partially on his head.
Warsofsky, who was inserted into the lineup in placed of injured defenseman Kris Letang, laid on the ice for several moments holding his head. After athletic trainer Chris Stewart attended to him, Warsofsky skated to the dressing room with some assistance and did not return.
Head coach Mike Sullivan said Warsofsky was still being evaluated during his postgame press conference. With Letang described as a "game-time" decision for Monday's game in St. Louis, Sullivan said defensive prospect Derrick Pouliot is a candidate to be recalled.
As far as the game goes, that was pretty much the only blemish on what was a pretty good afternoon for the Penguins.
They got off to a fast start, took an early lead, controlled the special teams battle and picked Hurricanes goaltender Eddie Lack to pieces. Most importantly, they took two clean points against a divisional rival they are battling for playoff position.
The fact they won without Letang was big too. They are 19-9-6 when he plays and are 2-7-1 when he doesn't. Clearly, they're a better team with him but gaining a little confidence in playing without him was significant.
The Penguins took a 1-0 lead 3:54 into the game. After gaining the offensive zone on the right wing, center Evgeni Malkin left a pass for defenseman Olli Maatta above the left circle. Maatta weaved by Hurricanes center Jeff Skinner and from the left circle, he lifted a wrister by the blocker of goaltender Eddie Lack on the far side.
They doubled their lead at 10:05 of the first period. Center Matt Cullen forced a turnover at the right point and chopped the puck to the high slot for center Kevin Porter who fed it down the slot for left winger Conor Sheary darting to the net. With Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanafin giving chase, Sheary fired a wrister while falling to his knees by Lack's blocker.
The Penguins tacked on a power-play goal with 36 seconds left in the second period. Defenseman Trevor Daley (above) controlled a puck at center point and dealt it to Malkin on the right wing. Malkin dealt a cross-ice pass to right winger Phil Kessel in the left circle. Kessel snapped off a pass to the crease where center Sidney Crosby directed the puck with the inside of his right skate blade and into the cage. A brief video review confirmed the score. Hurricanes coach Bill Peters challenged the goal on the basis of the Penguins entering the offensive zone offside but that subsequent review failed to overturn the score.
A second goal by Crosby at 6:55 of the third made it a 4-0 game. Right winger Patric Hornqvist settled a puck and chipped it up the right wing from his own zone. Crosby collected the puck, coasted into the right circle and fired a wrister by Lack's blocker on the far side.
The Penguins poured it on when Daley scored with 6:24 left in regulation. Settling a pass from Hornqvist, Daley motored into the right circle and snapped a wrister inside Lack's blocker and into the cage.
With Letang absent, the Penguins' top defensive pairing of Maatta and Daley stepped up. Daley, who took over for Letang on the top pairing as well as the top power-play unit just looked so composed with his promotion. He always seemed to know what to do with the puck and knew when to take some chances. When he controlled the puck at center point on the power play, he made calm decisive choices with it. It was very similar to how former defenseman Paul Martin looked anytime he took over for Letang in the past. Daley was a big part of this win.
Maatta had a pretty similar game in that respect, albeit with a far less prominent role on the power play. He made calm decisions and even took some extra shifts on the penalty kill in place of Letang.
Left winger Carl Hagelin debuted on the team's second line. He had 13:15 of ice time on 21 shifts, recorded four shots and two penalty minutes. He also had 1:56 of penalty kill time. For the most part, he played a simple game. He went to he net, forechecked and just seemed to try to read off Malkin and Kessel.
-The Penguins' power play looked hesitant to shoot sometimes with its early chances but for the most part, it looked like a threat. They controlled the puck and moved it fairly well around the offensive zone.
-The Penguins were successful on the penalty kill. While they did allow seven shots on four power-play chances, they killed all four of those chances including a five-on-three situation which lasted 43 seconds. After giving up three goals on eight chances their previous two games, today's "no-hitter" was big for the Penguins.
-Hornqvist and Crosby seemed to re-discover some of their old chemistry. They just seemed to read off one another fairly well.
-Prior to his injury, Warosfky looked fairly sharp for someone who had been a healthy scratch for eight games. Paired with defenseman Ian Cole on the third pairing, he made safe plays and was responsible Injuries always stink, but the timing of this one is especially pungent for Warsofsky's purposes.
-Sheary's goal was big for him. After being benched most of Friday's game in Tampa, he was on the fourth line with Cullen and Porter. Getting a goal, an important goal no less, was a good way to regain the coaching staff's confidence.
-Fleury earned the shutout but he wasn't exactly under fire most of the night. His teammates made it a fairly easy game for him.
-Four of the Penguins' five goals were on Lack's blocker side. In informal conversations, Penguins players did not indicate there was any sort of scouting report noting Lack's blocker as a target.
-The Hurricanes just didn't seem like the team which controlled their previous games against the Penguins. They rarely held onto the puck and just seemed to be chasing the Penguins.
-Sullivan talked about Daley's impact on the game and the power play specifically:
"I thought Trevor did a nice job. When you're playing with those guys on the first power play, sometimes there's a lot of pressure there because the expectations are high as far as moving the puck and distributing the puck and knowing when to shoot. I thought he did a real good job. The power play, even [our players] had a couple where they didn't score, I thought they had great zone time. They set up some real quality scoring chances and didn't finish and finally they were able to finish. And the goal they scored for us was obviously a big goal for us as far as the timing of the game."
Hagelin talked about playing with Malkin and Kessel:
"Pretty easy adjustment, you know? They like to play with speed. They're making good plays. I tried to create space for them out there by using my speed."
Hagelin was told by coaches to keep thing simple:
"They told me to just play the way I can and not think too much and I think that's what I did today."
Hagelin's last 48 hours were interesting
"It was crazy. I finished dinner then I got a call at 11:30 [p.m. Pacific time Friday] I think it was. Being told you get traded, it's never a fun thing. You obviously don't expect it. Then all of a sudden, there's a lot of people calling. You start figuring out what's going to happen here and you start looking at a new opportunity and a new chapter in your life. That's the type of guy I am. I try to stay positive at all times. Obviously, ending up here with such a great organization, it's a good opportunity for me."
Hagelin talked about playing with Malkin specificially:
"We didn't' talk much. We just got out there and played. That's the type of player he is. He's creative and he finds a way to find people out there. He can do a lot on his own. There's not too much talking. I think it's just reading off each other and working hard."
Sullivan gave a thumbs-up on Hagelin's debut:
“I thought he was solid. I think his speed is evident. I think the more he gets to play with [Malkin] and Phil or some of the other guys, depending on how we use him moving forward... the more familiar they get with him, I think it will allow him to have an impact moving forward. I think his speed is evident. He's chasing pucks down. He has the ability to chase plays. He has a great chance on [a] two-on-one. And his impact is obviously is big too."
Crosby joked about his first goal going off his skate:
"I had one right on my tape last game but I missed a wide open net. So I'll take them anyway they come."
Porter talked about what Hagelin brings to the penalty kill:
"Speed. Speed and energy. He gets a lot of pressure up ice, creates turnovers, smart player, he's good with his stick. So he's going to help us on the [penalty kill] a lot."
Peters talked about his team's poor play.
"I thought they were quicker than us today. ... There wasn't an area of the game we were sharp in today. We were very poor with the puck. It led to some continuous [defensive zone play] and icings that never have to happen."
-The Penguins controlled shots, 32-22.
-Malkin and Hagelin each led the game with four shots.
-Hanafin and center Andrej Nestrasil each led the Hurricanes with four shots.
-Defenseman Jaccob Slavin led the game with 24:31 of ice time.
-Daley led the Penguins with 24:19 of ice time.
-The Hurricanes led in faceoffs, 40-22 (65 percent).
-Former Penguins center Jordan Staal was 15 for 20 (75 percent).
-Fire Ray Shero.
-Malkin was 5 for 13 (38 percent).
-Maatta, defenseman Ben Lovejoy, Hurricanes defensemen John-Michael Liles, Michal Jordan, Ron Hainsey and Slavin each led the game with two blocked shots.
-Hagelin made his Penguins debut and became the first player in franchise history to wear No. 62.
-Hagelin is the 12th former Michigan player to play for the Penguins. He joins Porter, centers Mike Comrie, Andrew Ebbett, Andy Hilbert, defenseman Greg Fox, Brian Lundberg, Pat Neaton, Jeff Norton, Chris Tamer, left winger Greg Crozier, and right winger Pat Hughes.
-Fleury's shutout was the 41st of his career.
-The Penguins' last shutout of the Hurricanes was a 3-0 win Oct. 30, 2010. Goaltender Brent Johnson made 33 saves in the victory.
-Daley appeared in his 800th career game.
-Despite overlapping with the Steelers game, the Penguins had an announced sellout of 18,528. It was their 399th consecutive sellout. No. 400 should take place during Thursday's contest against the rival Flyers.
-The Penguins allowed fans to stay after their game and watch the rest of the Steelers game:
(Photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)