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Semi-rapid reaction: Duquesne 81, Saint Louis 71

Written by Craig Meyer on .

Duquesne snapped a four-game losing streak Wednesday with an 81-71 victory against Saint Louis in a game that was not anywhere close to how the final score may appear.

Here’s what went into the win.

Turning point: It didn’t take long for the game to be decided, as Duquesne raced out to a 17-2 lead and held the Billikens to just seven points in the opening 16 minutes. Saint Louis heated up in the second half, making 58.1 percent of its shots, but the deficit, which grew to 25 by halftime, was simply too much.

Game ball: Derrick Colter helped break out of a recent rut, scoring a team-high 17 points and logging four assists to just one turnover. Darius Lewis also gets a nod here for his career-high seven blocks that went along with 10 points.

What it means: Jim Ferry downplayed the urgency his team had to snap a four-game skid, but anytime you play a subpar team with an opportunity to end a losing streak, it means something. Duquesne’s offense, with a clearly healthier Micah Mason, was as good as it has been the past several weeks and the defense absolutely shut down its opponent in the first half, holding it to 13 points and just four made field goals (on 36 shots). This next stretch of games is going to be a tad kinder than the first three in A-10 play and getting that started with a win was a necessary step.

What’s next: A Saturday night date with St. Bonaventure, which is 4-0 in conference after a win Wednesday night against Rhode Island.

Quotable: “We took a bad loss last game. We had a rough start to the beginning of the [conference] season, but we weren’t going to let that define us and define the whole season. We had to make sure to bounce back today.” - Darius Lewis

“I thought we played a lot harder. We knew we had to bounce back. It was just a different mindset.” - Micah Mason

“We knew losing Jeremiah was going to hurt us a lot. But we had to find different ways. We’re a good team. These last couple of days, we went back to the basics and worked on offense a lot more in practice. We just have to have the confidence each player can get points at any time. That’s what we did tonight.” - Mason

“We lost a game four times. You guys are the ones talking about four in a row and a losing streak. We were starting over. When you lose a player like Jeremiah…we were 10-2 with Jeremiah. Are we going to be 20-4? No, but we lost him and we had to find ourselves. Micah got hurt during that time. It’s about a big picture. I’m not really focusing on ‘Oh, we lost four in a row.’ If you do that, then everybody’s going to get stressed out and that’s not what it’s about.” - Jim Ferry

“He’s getting better. You can just see his quickness and his cutting. Take away the shot-making – as a shooter, it all starts with your feet. I think he’s getting back in a rhythm and he’s playing with a little more quickness. It was very evident off the dribble when he was attacking.” - Ferry on Mason

 

Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

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Empty Netter Assists - Recapping Penguins-Hurricanes - 01-13-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-The Post-Gazette's recap from last night's game. “We know we have everything we need to win games. We just have to play a full 60 minutes.” - Defenseman Olli Maata.

-The Associated Press' recap. "Obviously, you don't want to take a penalty at all, but especially when it's that far from your net." - Head coach Mike Sullivan on center Evgeni Malkin's hooking penalty in overtime which led to Hurricanes' center Jeff Skinner's game-winning power-play goal.

-The Raleigh News & Observer's recap.  “We’re right in the thick of things, and we’re playing better. It’s a good group of people in that room and they want to make a push here. We’ve got roughly six weeks, maybe five weeks until the end of February and we have to prove we’re in the hunt and legitimately there.” - Hurricanes coach Bill Peters on his team's playoff hopes.

-Highlights:

-Mike Lange's goal calls.

-Sullivan speaks:

-Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury speaks:

-Patric Hornqvist... left winger?

-Goaltender Matt Murray made 33 saves for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 2-1 win against the St. John’s IceCaps. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has won six consecutive games.

-Highlights:

-Former defenseman John Slaney was selected for induction into the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' hall of fame.

-Happy 36th birthday to former Penguins center Mike Rupp. A free agent signing in the 2009 offseason, Rupp spent two seasons with the Penguins. During 2009-10, Rupp set career highs in games (81), goals (13) and points (19) and led the team with 120 penalty minutes. He saw action in 11 games during the 2010 posteason and failed to record a point. In 2010-11, Rupp played in 81 games and scored 17 points. In seven postseason games that spring he scored two points. Rupp, one of six former Penguins from Ohio - defensemen Ab DeMarco, Moe Mantha, Ian Moran, centers Brian Holzinger and Bryan Smolinski are the others - joined the Rangers during the 2011 offseason. In 162 regular season games, Rupp scored 36 points. In 18 postseason games, he scored two points. He currently works as a broadcaster for NHL Network.

-After the Jump: Bobby Farnham gets in trouble.

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Postgame thoughts - Hurricanes 3, Penguins 2 (OT) - 01-13-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

 

Observations from the Penguins' 3-2 overtime loss to the Hurricanes:

First, our apologies for the lateness of this post. We weren't feeling well last night.

This was a game the Penguins had to have. They needed both points. As they chase a playoff spot and try to dig out of the hole they were stuck in for most of the first half of the season, they can't give away points, especially to teams on their heels in the playoff chase. 

The Penguins deserve credit for coming back from a two-goal deficit and even getting the game to overtime, but at the same time, they squandered several opportunities to take early leads or to win this in regulation.

What Happened

After a scoreless first period, the Hurricanes struck first at 3:52 of the second period. Hurricanes center Elias Lindholm chipped a puck into the Penguins' end boards and chased it down. He was able to win a battle against defensemen Kris Letang, Olli Maatta as well as left winger David Perron and tapped the puck to right winger Kris Versteeg to the left of the cage. Versteeg fed it immediately to center Eric Staal to the right of the crease and Staal swept in an easy goal by the left skate of helpless goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Hurricanes got lucky and took a 2-0 lead at the 9:44 mark. Versteeg ripped a wrister off the left half wall. It hit the stick of center Sidney Crosby in front and deflected off the glass behind the net. The puck then ricocheted towards the crease. Fleury was crouched on his knees in the crease hugging the left post looking for any sign of the puck and had it trickle off his back and into the cage. Versteeg was credited with the goal.

The Penguins needed 45 seconds to respond. Following a television timeout, Crosby won a faceoff in the Hurricanes' right circle against Staal. He got the puck back to Maatta on the right half wall. Maatta then fed a pass to Letang at right point and Letang chopped a quick one-timer. The puck sailed by a screen of left winger Chris Kunitz as well as Versteeg and beat Ward's glove hand on the near side.

The game was tied, 2-2, at 6:01 of the third period. Hurricanes defenseman John-Michael Liles made a lazy pass from his right circle to the blue line and had it intercepted by right winger Patric Hornqvist who chopped it down to the Hurricanes' end boards. Crosby chased the puck down, set up shop behind the Carolina net and fed a pass to the slot. Kunitz darted in and jabbed a one-timer by Ward's blocker.

In overtime, after center Evgeni Malkin took a poor hooking penalty against center Jordan Staal in the Hurricanes' zone, Carolina won the game on the power play. From above the left circle, Hurricanes defneseman Justin Faulk slid a pass low to the left of the cage for Lindholm. Lindholm waited for Maatta to slide down on a block attempt and fed a pass to center Jeff Skinner positioned to the right of the cage and Skinner slammed in an easy forehand shot by Fleury's left skate.

The Penguins

-With roughly six minutes left in the second period, the Penguins switched up their first and second lines and it semed to spark them a bit. Hornqvist was moved from second line left wing to first line right wing while Perron went the opposite route.

-Perron's struggles continue. This time, it wasn't just on offense. He failed to defend Lindholm on the play which led to Carolina's first goal.

-We liked Kunitz's game. He had a strong screen on Letang's goal and just knew where to be for Crosby's pass on his own goal.

-The Penguins' power play really let them down. They had two power-plays - including a brief five-on-three situation - in the first period and failed to cash them in. 

-Early in the first period, right winger Phil Kessel blew Ward's helmet off his head with a wrister:

-Fleury was fine. The first and third goals he allowed were the product of wide open passes while the second was a fluke.

-Center Nick Bonino did not play the final 9:35 of regulation or overtime. There was no word as to his status.

The Hurricanes

-Once again, the Penguins made Ward look like it was 2006. He saw plenty of shots but a lot of them were very preventable.  His chest protector may need a day off. 

Quotable

-Sullivan spoke with reporters in Raleigh about the start of the game:

"Obviously we would have liked to come out with more energy and grab a hold of momentum right off the bat. I don't think we did that to the extent that we could have but I don't think it was a case where we got totally outplayed."

-Sullivan talked about moving Hornqvist to the first line:

"I liked it. I thought Sid, he was locked in. He was going. I decided to make that switch halfway through the game. I like it. They were pretty good together."

-Fleury talked about Versteeg's fluky goal:

"Weird bounce, you know. They did didn't get too many shots and that's a frustrating one. That's one of their goals. I lost sight of it. I turned back into my net and it got my shoulder."

-Kunitz was asked if the team is looking at the standings:

"I think we're all looking at it right now. It's a tough league to jump people in front of you. Everyone is clustered. It doesn't matter where you are in front of the standings, it's usually four or five points and separates maybe [10th place] from [seventh or six place] or whatever it is. But we're playing these teams every single night. If we don't win them, we're definitely not going to leapfrog anybody. We're definitely not going find our way into the playoffs."

-Eric Staal echoed Kunitz's thoughts:

"We've been staring at the standings all year. So yeah, it helps. Definitely a good thing. We scraped and clawed to get to .500. Now you got to climb. You've got to beat teams in front of you. Obviously, tough with them getting a point but nonetheless, it's two points. We've got to continue to build and get points whereever we can."

-Faulk was asked about his team reaching .500:

"I don't like that number. It's talked about too much for my liking, .500. Yeah, its nice to get going. Nice to be above it but we want to be better than that."

Numbers

-The Penguins had a 25-21 lead in shots on net.

-Eric Staal led the game with five shots.

-Kunitz led the Penguins with four shots.

-Letang led the game with 28:47 of ice time.

-Defenseman Jaccob Slavin led the Hurricanes with 25:59 of ice time.

-The Penguins had a 25-24 edge in faceoffs (51 percent).

-Jordan Staal was 11 for 20 (55 percent).

-Fire Ray Shero.

-Center Matt Cullen was 5 for 9 (56 percent).

-Hornqvist led the game with four blocked shots.

-Slavin led the Hurricanes with three blocked shots.

Historically speaking

-The Penguins had killed 27 consecutive opposing power-play chances until Skinner's goal. The last team to score a power-play goal against the Penguins was - you guessed it - the Hurricanes. They had two power-play scores in a 2-1 road win Dec. 19.

-Eric Staal now has 46 career points in 44 career games against the Penguins.

Visuals

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

-Highlights:

(Photo: Gerry Broome/Associated Press)

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Pregame thoughts - Penguins at Hurricanes - 01-12-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

When Patric Hornqvist initially came to Pittsburgh for some informal workouts in the late summer of 2014, we sought some clarification from him with regards to his position. During his time with the Predators, he had been listed as center but had played right wing. Kind of like how Tyler Kennedy was listed as center but almost never played that position.

We asked Hornqvist is he played multiple positions and he was was blunt in proclaiming, "Nah, I'm a right wing." 

And ever since then, he was used on the right wing with just about any line he was on with the Penguins. 

Head coach Mike Sullivan has experimented with Hornqvist on the left wing during his month with the Penguins. He played there Saturday in Montreal on the second line with center Evgeni Malkin and right winger Phil Kessel and he's slated to do the same tonight. Speaking with media in Raleigh today, Sullivan talked about why he is using Hornqvist on the left wing:

"We thought he could help [Malkin] and Phil with his skillsets. [Malkin] and Phil I think have a little bit of chemistry developing among themselves. They look for one another. [Hornqvist] is a guy that goes to the net when they shoot the puck. He plays in the trenches. He helps them retrieve pucks. He's that kind of a player. So I think that skillset with those two guys potentially could help that line. I know he hasn't played the left side. I asked him if he could play it. He said that he could make that adjustment. We've liked Sid's line with the way that it's gone here the last little while and we were reluctant to break that line up. In the absence of that, you're limited as far as who you potentially move into that spot. So that's one of the reasons we tried it. I think he's making that adjustment. I don't think it's ideal for his scenario but certainly I admire the fact that he's willing to do what it takes to help the team."

---

-Sullivan was asked about what changes he has made to the penalty kill which has killed off 25 consecutive opposing power plays:

"The one thing that jumped out at me and [assistant coach Jacques Martin] as well was just trying to make the entry more difficult. I believe in trying to limit power plays' time in zone. I'm a big believer that zone time for a power play is important. So we talked about that with our guys on the power play aspect. On the penalty kill aspect, we're trying to do just the opposite. We're trying to apply pressure. We're trying to have cooperative pressure so that we work together to make the entry difficult and possession difficult if they get the entry. So I think we've improved in that area. I also think we've improved in the areas as far as looking for opportunities to be aggressive and apply pressure and force power plays to have to make plays under duress. I think when we do that, we can force errant passes, we can force teams to have to make plays under pressure. It's hard to do. That's been probably the biggest adjustments that we've made."

---

-There's apparently a big static electricity problem in the visiting room of PNC Arena and it has taken its toll on defneseman Olli Maatta:

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With so much focus - from the Penguins' perspective at least - on how the Penguins are chasing a playoff spot, it's kind of easy to forget the Hurricanes aren't too far off from a playoff spot also. In fact, they're only four points behind the Penguins in the standings. So if these games against divisional foes are important for the Penguins, imagine how important they are for the Hurricanes. 

Hurricanes coach Bill Peters was curt and a little bit glib when asked how key tonight's game was:

"Biggest game of the year."

---

-One of the most overlooked stories of the season is the offensive exploits of Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk. Despite his 14 goals, including 12 on the power play, it just doesn't seem like anyone notices what Faulk is doing. If he was on a playoff team or playing in a more prominent hockey market, he'd probably have a much better shot at the Norris Trophy.

---

-Former Penguins center Jordan Staal is having a nice season with 10 goals in 43 games. In his past three games, he has six points (three goals, three assists). After primarly struggling in his tenure with the Hurricanes, he has settled on a line with left winger Joakim Nordstrom and center Andrej Nestrasil

(Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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About the Hurricanes - 01-12-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Hurricanes.

When and where: 7 p.m., EST, Raleigh Sports and Entertainment Arena RBC Center PNC Arena.

TV: Root Sports, Fox Sports Carolina, TVA.

Record: 18-18-7, 43 points. The Hurricanes are in seventh place in the Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division.

Leading Scorer: Defenseman Justin Faulk, 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists).

Last Game: 4-3 overtime road win against the Blue Jackets Saturday. Center Jordan Staal had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes.

Last Game against the Penguins: 2-1 road win Dec. 19. Goaltender Cam Ward (right) made 37 saves for the Hurricanes.

Hurricanes Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Center Eric Staal. He has 44 points in 43 career games against the Penguins.

Ex-Penguins on the Hurricanes: Pro scout Jeff Daniels, general manager Ron Francis, Jordan Staal.

Ex-Hurricanes on the Penguins: Center Matt Cullen, defenseman Brian Dumoulin (Doumoulin was a former Hurricanes draft pick but never played for the organization), vice president of hockey operations Jason Karmanos, player development coach Mark Recchi, general manager Jim Rutherford.

Useless Hurricanes Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: The last team to score a power-play goal against the Penguins was the Hurricanes. They scored each of their goals Dec. 19 on the power play. Since then, the Penguins have killed 25 consecutive opposing power plays.

The last time the Penguins played the Hurricanes, this happened: 

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (15-11-3, 2.24 GAA, .928 SV%) for the Penguins. Cam Ward (13-11-4, 2.42 GAA, .905 SV%) for the Hurricanes.

Injuries: For the Penguins, right wingers Beau Bennett ("upper body") and Pascal Dupuis (blood clots) are on injured reserve. For the Hurricanes, center Victor Rask ("upper body") is probable. Left winger Phil Di Giuseppe (concussion) is out. Left winger Nathan Gerbe (ankle) and defenseman James Wisniewski (knee) are on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins lines and pairings at today's morning skate were

14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 39 David Perron
72 Patric Hornqvist - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 81 Phil Kessel
34 Tom Kuhnhackl - 13 Nick Bonino - 17 Bryan Rust
11 Kevin Porter - 7 Matt Cullen - 16 Eric Fehr

58 Kris Letang - 3 Olli Maatta
8
 Brian Dumoulin - 12 Ben Lovejoy
6 Trevor Daley - 28 Ian Cole

-According to the the team's Web site, the Hurricanes' lines and pairings at today's morning skate were:

32 Kris Versteeg - 12 Eric Staal - 16 Elias Lindholm
42 Joakim Nordstrom - 11 Jordan Staal - 15 Andrej Nestrasil
53 Jeff Skinner - 49 Victor Rask - 23 Brock McGinn
20 Riley Nash - 16 Jay McClement - 24 Brad Malone

26 John-Michael Liles - 27 Justin Faulk
74 Jaccob Slavin - 65 Rony Hainsey
5 Noah Hanifin - 54 Brett Pesce

Notes:

-General manager Jim Rutherford still keeps tabs on his former team, the Hurricanes.

-Rask is expected to return to the lineup after missing two games due to injury.

-The referees are (No. 13) Dan O'Halloran and (No. 47) Trevor Hanson. The linesmen are (No. 89) Steve Miller and (No. 84) Tony Sericolo.

(Photo: Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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