Hurricanes 2 – Penguins 1
The Pittsburgh Penguins could use the injury excuse tonight but momentum from Wednesday’s comeback win didn’t carry over in a 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes (18-12-7, 43 pts) on Friday night.
While the scoreboard said it was a one goal game and shots were only 33-28 Carolina, the Hurricanes were the far superior team in pushing the play and dictating the tempo.
Carolina out-attempted Pittsburgh 65-47 and they were +17 in 5 vs 5 shot attempts.
Scoring chances were 35-17 Hurricanes in the game and Carolina was +7 in high-danger chances.
Tristan Jarry gave the Penguins a chance with a 31 save performance but Pittsburgh’s lone goal came in the first period from Brian Dumoulin (2).
What stood out with Carolina was the quickness on the wing and their blueline has a great mix of shutdown/puck moving ability defenders in the top-4 that thwarted the Penguins top-lines.
No. 1 pairing d-man Jaccob Slavin dominated the Sidney Crosby matchup.
Crosby and Slavin were matched up for over 12 minutes of ice time during 5 vs 5 play.
In that matchup the Hurricanes controlled possession on 70% (18/8) of their shot attempts, were +7 in scoring chances and +3 in high danger chances.
Crosby had a rough night with 1 shot and a 33 CF%. Pittsburgh 1st, 2nd and 4th line forwards were all under 40% in driving possession.
Pittsburgh’s only forwards who were above 50% was Dominik Simon (59 CF%) and Riley Sheahan (55 CF%). That was a major win for the Hurricanes.
Carolina with the win moves two points ahead of the Penguins in the standings and have played two less games. Pittsburgh is three points out of the wildcard and one point out of last place.
With the Hurricanes, is this finally the year they push for a playoff spot?
There’s a lot of things to like with that club, starting with the backend. Upfront they lack those premier scoring forwards but it’s a deep group with youth and speed. Jordan Staal is also having his best season in years and his skating looks improved which has been a big plus for them.
With Carolina it comes back to the goaltending.
Scott Darling has not been the answer and Cam Ward can go on a little run like he is now but he hasn’t been a viable No. 1 goaltender for a few years now.
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