The Carolina Hurricanes lost their second close game in a row, this time to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center. Both Cam Ward and Marc Andre Fleury were on all night and both goaltenders made spectacular save after spectacular save. As always the case against the Pens, the Canes got peppered with shots early and often. The Penguins outshot the Canes in every period, including overtime, ending up with a significant edge in shots on goal with 41 to the Canes 26. Jamie McBain started the scoring off early wristing a lose puck past Fleury just 2:11 into the first period. Jussi Jokinen and Jeff Skinner were credited with the helpers. Things then started to get chippy towards the end of the period, when Tim Gleason and Deryk Engelland had a heck of a scrap, where both players landed good shots in. The Canes would head into the first intermission up 1-0.
Pittsburgh came out hard and heavy in the second period, and the Canes were spending a lot of time in their own zone trying to keep the Penguins from putting too many pucks to the net. With about 7 minutes into the period, Brooks Orpik put a heavy hit on Jeff Skinner near center ice, which silenced everyone at the Cool Bars in Wilmington and all Caniacs held their breath. Skinner was on the ice for a few moments before heading back to the locker room with head trainer Pete Friesen. Bryan Allen would want to do a little dance with Orpik a few moments later, but Orpik was not having any of it. Skinner spent some time with Penguins’ doctors, but did return a few minutes later. With less than 2 minutes left in the period, Evgeni Malkin took a rebound from Matt Niskanen and went top shelf on the near side on Cam Ward to tie the game at 1, which is where both teams ended the second period.
Both teams came on strong in the third, with several quality chances, but both goaltenders were up to the task. About half way through the period, Tim Brent stuck up for his fellow teammate Jeff Skinner as he and Joe Vitale scrapped. It was a good tussle, with Brent eventually getting the edge up on Vitale. It was awesome, baby! (Sorry, had to do it). The game eventually went to overtime, even though Jussi Jokinen had a golden opportunity to cash in with less than a minute left, as a puck squirted out from the corner out in front, but Fleury was able to get a pad to it to keep the game tied at 1. The Penguins got more chances on net during the overtime session, but the Canes defense and Cam Ward stood tall and the contest went to a shootout. James Neal had the deciding goal in the shootout, as the Pens won the shootout 1-0, as well as the game by a 2-1 score.
- I was able to go to the Cool Bars event in Wilmington last night to join the game. There was a gentlemen there from the Tampa area, up for a business trip, who admitted that he did not expect the bar to be filled with Caniacs watching a game, especially on a Tuesday night and was impressed by the turnout. If you have not been to a Cool Bars event before, I highly recommend it.
- Both Justin Faulk and Jay Harrison were the work horses on defense, as they logged 27:33 and 28:49 of ice time, respectively. Both ended up even for the night — a rather impressive feat considering the ice time logged and the match-ups they were given.
- The Canes were able to block 24 of the Penguins shots, compared to only 12 shots blocked by the Pens.
- Carolina was impressive in the face-off circle, winning 62% of them. Leading the way was Brandon Sutter with 86%, Jeff Skinner with 63%, Jussi Jokinen at 67% and Eric Staal at 58%.
- After viewing the hit that Jeff Skinner took from Brooks Orpik a few times, I’m not sure it was a “dirty” hit … the puck was there, and the correct call of interference was called. It was a tad bit on the high side, but I don’t believe that his head was the primary point of contact. What irks me, however, were the fans in Pittsburgh booing Skinner. Your captain has been out for a prolonged period of time with concussion-like symptoms and you boo a kid who could have sustained his second concussion? Give me a break. (End rant)