Post-Carolina Observations

Hurricanes Overtime Winner with 0.9 seconds

*Marc Andre Fleury made what appeared to be a potential game saving stop on Chad LaRose’s wrist shot with just seconds remaining but Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jamie McBain scored his 1st NHL goal on a slap shot from just above the circles with 0.9 seconds remaining in overtime and the Carolina Hurricanes rallied late to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2.

Malkin returns

Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin returned to the lineup after missing two games and Malkin gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead off a wrist shot from the top of the left circle with 6:55 remaining in regulation. Malkin had a strong game at less than 100 percent, registering a goal and a team high 7 shots on goal.

Bylsma: “It wasn’t a strong game from our team”

Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma was not happy with his teams performance after getting off to a sluggish start to open the game and blowing a late lead.
Bylsma indicated that his team has lacked consistency, indicating “we need to get better at that {Consistency}, ” Bylsma said. “It wasn’t a strong game from our team.”
Despite being two points ahead of the New Jersey Devils for first place in the Atlantic division, Bylsma is not content with the way the Penguins are playing as the team is 2-2-2 in their last six games.
Bylsma appeared to be most disturbed by the Penguins slow start but also said that even when the Penguins went up 2-1 on Malkin’s third period tally, the Hurricanes were pushing the play.

Hurricanes limit Pittsburgh to 25 shots

The Carolina Hurricanes played a strong defensive game at even strength and didn’t give the Penguins much time. Through three periods, Carolina limited Pittsburgh to just 21 shots, which was at the time was the Penguins lowest total shots of the season.
Carolina did a solid job of keeping the Penguins to the outside and clogging the middle.

Staal nets 20th goal; 1st power play goal

Jordan Staal’s power play goal with 17 seconds remaining in the second period was his 1st power play goal of the season and his 20th goal of the year.
Staal who is developing into a dominant two-way player, has recorded back-to-back 20+ goal seasons.

Ponikarovsky has strong game

Alexei Ponikarovsky had his most impressive game in a Penguins uniform. Ponikarovsky set up Jordan Staal for a beautiful power play goal and the little things Ponikarovsky did this afternoon stood out to me.
Ponikarovsky was aggressive on the fore-check against Carolina, (which he lacks consistency in), and his aggressiveness on the fore-check created a cycle that led to Evgeni Malkin’s go-ahead goal.
Ponikarovsky is not an overly physical player but he’s effective when he’s aggressive down low in the corners, using his big frame to win battles. The unit of Ponikarovsky-Malkin-Fedotenko was the Penguins top line this afternoon.
When the Penguins acquired Ponikarovsky a scout told me he’s more of an asset as a passer than a goal scorer and that appears to be the case during his short stint with Pittsburgh.

Guerin not a fit on the 3rd line

Dan Bylsma has been experimenting with his lines and today he went with a third line unit of Matt Cooke-Jordan Staal and Bill Guerin. Guerin who has been an asset alongside Sidney Crosby for much of the season, has shown in his limited time that he’s not a fit with Cooke and Staal.
Guerin never looked comfortable today and is only a fit on one of the top-2 lines.

Penalty Kill unit stars in loss

The Pittsburgh Penguins penalty kill unit has become one of the teams biggest strengths. The Penguins were 5-for-5 on the PK today and have killed off 17 straight penalties. Under assistant coach Tony Granato, the Penguins have become much more aggressive and their rotation has been tremendous.

Canes surging

Despite a rash of injuries, the Carolina Hurricanes are surging but it might be too little too late. The Hurricanes are 11-3-1 since Feb. 5 and just 6 points out of the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference with 11 games remaining.
After being swept by Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference Finals last spring, Carolina went 3-0-1 against Pittsburgh this season.

Does Marc Andre Fleury need to be better?

One of the reasons Pittsburgh has been so dangerous heading into the playoffs over the past three seasons is because of Marc Andre Fleury. Fleury was dominant going into the 2008 and 2009 playoffs.
With 10 games remaining in the regular season, Pittsburgh needs him to be better. Fleury was not at fault for today’s loss but he needs to make that save on Joni Pitkanen at the 16:00 minute mark which sent the game to overtime.

Talbot among Pittsburgh’s healthy scratches

Max Talbot’s disappointing season continues. Talbot, Eric godard and Jay McKee were Pittsburgh’s healthy scratches this afternoon. Talbot has been a healthy scratch for three of the past four games. Jay McKee playing Sunday afternoon against Tampa Bay was nothing more than just getting McKee ice time despite Bylsma praising McKee after the game and giving him top-6 reps in last Tuesday’s practice.
Management feels that having three puck-moving defenseman in the lineup gives them the best chance to compete.
Next Game: Monday March 22 @ Detroit