Jiri Tlusty (9) had two goals and one assist, leading the Carolina Hurricanes (10-8-1), to a dominating 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins (13-8-0, 26 pts) on Thursday Night at the PNC Center.
Eric Staal (10) and Jeff Skinner (8) also scored in the win and Cam Ward made 26 saves to earn the win.
The Penguins started the game very sloppy with a number of turnovers but opened the scoring when Chris Kunitz scored his 9th goal of the season at 13:14 of first period with a beautiful one-timer goal, but the Hurricanes would score four unanswered goals, en route to the win.
Penguins netminder Marc Andre Fleury made 25 saves on 29 shots in the loss.
The Penguins have lost two straight games.
PENGUINS A MESS DEFENSIVELY IN LOSS
The Penguins couldn’t slow down the Hurricanes top line of Jiri Tlusty, Eric Staal and Alexander Semin. The line combined for 8 points and a plus-6 rating in the win. Tlusty led the way with two goals and an assist, while Eric Staal had a goal and two assists, and Alexander Semin had two assists.
The common theme for this line was getting to the net effectively, winning puck battles down and setting up offense from behind the net and down low.
The Penguins all night failed to defend the front of their net well, which was their achilles heel tonight. It was a collective poor effort from the forwards to the defense.
What the Penguins struggled mightily at was identifying players in front and a lot of the issues were on the forwards not rotating down properly after the Penguins defensemen were getting beat for puck battles down low. There was way too much watching the puck.
With how bad the Penguins were defensively, this was a game where the Penguins needed the power play to come up with a big goal or two and it wasn’t there, and the Penguins were 0 for 5 on the night, ending their streak of consecutive games with a power play goal.
Overall it was a disturbing loss in all facets for the Penguins from their poor puck management, poor defensive zone play and O for 5 night on the power play.
The Penguins were outscored 4 to 1 at even strength and spent a lot of the night in their own end.
D Paul Martin (-3, 18:28 TOI) – was a minus-3 in the game and left the game in the third period.
D Robert Bortuzzo (-1, 12:51 TOI) – Bortuzzo had a really poor night and have to imagine he’s a healthy scratch Saturday night vs the Montreal Canadiens, opening the door for Simon Despres to return to the lineup or Mark Eaton getting a look. With seconds left in the second period, Bortuzzo was beat down low off a puck battle by Eric Staal who moved the puck over to Alex Semin and setup Jiri Tlusty in front for the goal with 11 seconds left in the period.
RW Tyler Kennedy (2 SOG, 13:24 TOI) – Among the few bright spots tonight. From the start, Kennedy was playing with energy, winning puck battles and for once played with an edge.
C Brandon Sutter (1 SOG, 14:49 TOI) – was the Penguins best forward tonight
LW Chris Kunitz (1G, 18:57 TOI) – Collected his 9th goal of the season and 24th point of the season as he’s averaging a career high 1.14 points per game.
C Sidney Crosby (1A, -2, 24:31) – collected his 31st point of the season with the primary assist on Kunitz goal and won 21 faceoffs but was not very good in his own end.