The Pittsburgh Penguins came into Friday nights game vs. the Carolina Hurricanes fresh off a couple of dominating victories against good teams. No one would forget the Capitals game Monday, but on Wednesday they decidedly defeated the Canadians 4-1. Would the red-hot focus from the past week remain as they head into Raleigh to take on the Hurricanes?
Pittsburgh was 5-1-1 in their last seven games coming into PNC Arena. Maybe that name just makes them feel at home.
Carolina had split their last two games winning 7-4 last Saturday against the Islanders and then dropping a 4-1 contest to Columbus on Tuesday.
At home through the Hurricanes had been nearly unbeatable as they sported at 14-1-1 in their last 16 games on home ice. Playing at PNC Arena, they are just about one of the toughest teams in the league.
That record meant the sold-out crowd at PNC Arena looked to be ready to a wildly competitive game.
One note the Penguins had gone 12 straight games without a power-play marker in Carolina. Something the boys would surely be looking to break in this tilt.
Cam Ward would get the nod for the Canes and Matt Murray for the Penguins.
This one would be another goal-filled affair as the Penguins would again bang home a seven spot to take down Carolina 7-1.
Trevor Daley (4) would get the lone first-period goal for a 1-0 Pens lead
The second period would feature 4 Penguins goals. Carl Hagelin (6), Conor Sheary (14), Chris Kunitz (14) and Phil Kessel (14) would all score for a huge 5-0 lead for the Penguins going to the third. Kessel’s goal would be on the power play.
Evgeni Malkin (22) and Sheary (15) would connect in the 3rd and Carolina would sandwich in a shorthand tally for Victor Stalberg (8) shorthanded for their only tally of the night.
Pittsburgh 7-1 victory would probably be one of the easiest of the year.
A breakneck place ensued to start the game. Back and forth the Pens and Canes skated trading chances. Matt Murray was particularly active on a save on Elias Lindholm right in front of the Pens cage three minutes into the game.
The scoreboard would be lit early by Pittsburgh. A failed clearing attempt by a Hurricanes defender was gloved down right at the blueline by Daley. He dropped it to his stick and walked in took about two strides and ripped a slapshot right by Cam Ward for the 1-0 Pens lead.
In the second period, the Pens would jump all over the Hurricanes and put the game out of reach.
First, it would be Hagelin who would jam one past Ward. Cameron Gaunce would make a nice quick play at the point and just throw the puck towards the Canes net.
Right there on the doorstep was Hagelin to simply grab the loose puck as it lay in front and slide it under Ward’s pad. 2-0 Pens.
Goal 3 for Pittsburgh was a miss mash of guys going to the net and pucks bouncing. It is an illustration that when you get the puck on net, good things happen.
Justin Schultz just fired a wrist shot towards Ward from the point. It pinballed off several players. Rust skate was there for a carom, and that led to Sheary getting it right in the slot. He fired and although it looked like Ward made the save, the puck squirted through for a 3-0 Pens lead.
Kunitz would poke in a rebound for goal 4. Again, nothing sexy about this goal. The Canes would turn it over in their own end to Eric Fehr who fired on Ward from right in front. Ward stopped it but before it was frozen Kunitz would come in and poke it past the goal-line.
Two goals in 18 seconds would give the Penguins a 4-0 lead.
Finally, as the scoring commenced in the second period, we got a goal that looked more like a Pittsburgh Penguins goal. This one came on the power play from Kessel.
You seriously just have to watch and laugh when you see a play like this at the NHL level. Kessel had the puck down near the circle and fired a snap pass almost full cross ice to Malkin.
Malkin gathered and immediately fired the same pass back to Kessel but this time through a maze of Canes sticks. Off course all Kessel did was drop to a knee and fire a one time shot right past Ward.
Barely any net to work with and off an insane pass by Malkin, Kessel made it look easy for the 5-0 lead.
Up 5-0 the third period would probably be a little boring. The Penguins and Hurricanes would probably just play out the stretch. But we did end up seeing three goals.
Malkin was able to score his 22nd of the year on a wrap around. He simply came around the net did a wrap around and although it looks to be stopped, he pounded on it and it snuck in near post on Ward for goal 6.
The Hurricanes only tally would come shorthanded. Stalberg would outrace Eric Fehr and beat Murray on a breakaway. He just came in and fired one in between the glove and pad of Murray.
The only thing this did was break up the shutout for Murray.
Rounding out the scoring would be Sheary. Rust would use his speed down the wing to take the puck into the Hurricanes end and come in on Ward and go to the backhand. Ward saved it, but the puck came free right to Sid and front.
Without even looking he spun a no-look backhand to a wide open Sheary who deposited into an empty net. 7-1 Penguins win and a very enjoyable game to watch.
We should probably all stop and enjoy the way Malkin and Crosby are playing. Both passes on assists tonight were magnificent. To me it’s the highest level we have seen them both play at the same time.
Crashing the net and throwing pucks high has become a strategy. The Pens seem to be doing this on purpose, and it creates havoc in front. I’d love to know if it is something the coaching staff has preached.
Carolina made some bad turnovers in this game. An absolute death sentence against this Pittsburgh team. You must make the smart play and not be a hero
Schultz watch, two more freaking helpers.
When you look at the entire roster and the point distribution each night, you can see the Pens depth. Each game it’s different guys scoring points. It’s what make this team so tough and what should make them a tough out come playoff time. Everyone contributes.
Penguins: Home vs. the Boston Bruins (23-20-6) on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.ET
Bring your terrible towels to the game