PPG Paints Arena looked like a blast from the past, as the Pittsburgh Penguins hosted the Carolina Hurricanes on 70s Night. This was an important Metropolitan Division match up, with the Penguins only a point behind the ‘Canes in the standings.
However, things weren’t as groovy as fans had hoped, with Carolina escaping Pittsburgh with two points.
The injury-ridden lineup was able to match up evenly with the Hurricanes early on, with each team getting a few good scoring chances. It didn’t take long for both to show why they are two of the faster teams in the league.
Neither Matt Murray nor Cam Ward wanted to blink first, keeping the game scoreless halfway through the first period. The Penguins started to spend more time in the Hurricanes’ zone, but the visitors made sure they got their fair share of shots on Murray.
Every line started peppering Ward consistently, but they did everything except put the puck in the net. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Justin Schultz and others had very good chances but Ward stopped them all.
The penalty killers came up big at the end of the period, successfully killing off a Phil Kessel slash right before the horn sounded.
To start the second, the Penguins had to weather an early onslaught by the Hurricanes. Murray continued to stay strong, even stopping a shot from behind the net with some help from Kris Letang. But as strong as the Penguins netminder was, his counterpart was just as good.
Just when it looked like Pittsburgh would strike first, it was Carolina who would break through. Jeff Skinner took advantage of an Ian Cole turnover and fired it past Murray’s glove to open the scoring seven minutes into the period.
That goal threw the Penguins completely out of sync. Mike Sullivan needed more from his team, especially with them having only nine shots halfway through the game.
They didn’t give him what he was looking for, allowing Teuvo Teravainen to score on a wide-open net while the defense was puck-watching. With the way the Pens were playing, a 2-0 deficit might as well have been 5-0.
It was deja vu all over again, as nothing could go right for Pittsburgh as the period came to an end. Another bad second period put them down by a pair going into the third.
Just when it couldn’t get any worse, Sebastian Aho scored twice to make it 4-0. One was after skating past Schultz with ease and the other was redirecting it past Murray.
The Hurricanes didn’t even need to play keep away, as the Penguins continued to get in their own way for the remainder of the game. You have to give props to the fans who stayed for all three periods, especially since many left after the second.
I don’t really know what else there is to say, every loss is almost always the same. The Penguins had a pretty good first period, but once again couldn’t put the puck in the net.
All it took was one mistake to open the floodgates for the Hurricanes and throw the Penguins off their game. It’s a never-ending cycle of inconsistency and disappointment.
The Penguins will look to try and bounce back tomorrow night against the New York Islanders. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Barclays Center.