The Pittsburgh Penguins have officially put the Carolina Hurricanes on the brink of elimination with a remarkable 6-2 win tonight in Carolina. Every announcer and analyst in the hockey world talks about how important the first goal of a game is but the Penguins are making a counterargument this postseason.
Let's take a look at the games the Pens have won. Two out of the four games that the Pens beat Philadelphia, the Flyers scored the first goal. Two out of the four games that the Pens beat Washington, the Caps scored the first goal. And tonight the Carolina Hurricanes scored the first goal.
The Canes came out of the gate strong tonight which was expected with them being at home. They actually outshot the Pens tonight for once and Matt Cullen put them on the board first just four minutes into the game. The turning point was at the end of the first period. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin scored back to back goals, 31 seconds apart, with less than a minute left in the first. That took the energy out of the high octane RBC and they never really recaptured that energy.
Fatigue has to be believed to be the big factor. Even after Sergei Samsonov brough the Canes within one goal in the third period, the Pens just had more in their legs. Joe Corvo, Joni Pitkanen, Dennis Seidenberg, and Eric Staal all played 22+ minutes again tonight while the Pens only had three guys over 20 minutes and Crosby was the only one to even get to 21.
The big guns are tired for Carolina and it's being shown by the scored. Matt Cullen is the leading scorer for the Canes with three points this series. Evgeni Malkin is the leading scorer for the Pens with triple the points at nine. Yes, that's Malkin being spectacular. It's also the Canes being lackluster.
Food for thought. Does anyone remember how much Evgeni Malkin got scrutinized last year for being non-existant in the Conference Finals. He was considered to be someone that choked in the playoffs. I think we can throw that theory out the window.