PNC Arena was nearly packed with 19,023 fans in attendance for Friday night’s matchup of the two highest-ranked teams in the Metropolitan Division.
The Carolina Hurricanes won 4-3 the last time they faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh on February 20. However, in the first period on Friday, it looked as though the Canes may not be as lucky this go around.
The Penguins dominated the first period in Raleigh. Sidney Crosby won the faceoff to start the game and from there, the Canes struggled to gain control of the puck. Pittsburgh took an early lead when Jake Guentzel scored 4:28 into the game. After the goal, the Canes attempted to fight back with six shots on goal before Nino Niederreiter received a penalty for slashing.
The Canes pulled off the penalty kill, but just seconds after, Crosby scored to advance the Penguins’ lead to 2-0. Carolina went into the first intermission scoreless.
The energy for the Hurricanes flipped in the second period. Jordan Staal put the team on the scoreboard with a 4:20 goal assisted by Nino Niederreiter. Although they failed to tie the game in the second, the Canes looked far more evenly matched with their rival than they had in the previous period.
Staal pulled through again in the third to tie the game at two. From there, tensions rose as both teams tried to walk away with the win in regulation. These tensions came to a peak with a fight between Vincent Trocheck and Mark Friedman. Though both players spent five minutes, more than the remaining playing time, in the penalty box, Trocheck was able to pin Friedman to the ice, winning the fight and the praise of Canes fans in the crowd.
A late-game penalty for the Penguins for having too many men on the ice resulted in a Canes power play. Despite their efforts, Carolina failed to score, leaving the game tied at two at the end of regulation.
Bonus hockey started off rough for the Canes with a faceoff loss, but things soon turned in their favor when a slashing penalty by Kris Letang resulted in a power play. Andrei Svechnikov took advantage of the power play to make a goal assisted by Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho to give the Canes the overtime 3-2 win.
Penguins fans left a packed PNC Arena disappointed and much quieter than they were during the first period of the game as their team suffered their second straight loss to division leaders Carolina Hurricanes.