So what do you do when you're playing the bottom feeders in the division known for being populated mostly with bottom feeders? A team with nothing left to play for other than their own contracts? Clearly, the answer is to go out there and lose.
Carolina's Zach Boychuk started off the festivities early in the first period with a pass from Joni Pitkanen that went off his leg and into the net. It was one of those goals that's technically lucky, but you get those kinds of goals now and then when you drive to the net, and that's exactly what happened on the play. The Penguins simply rolled over and died offensively for the entire period.
The second period began with watching the Hurricanes play a Jersey-style trap that only briefly faltered long enough for Tyler Kennedy to annoy the Canes with a shot after the whistle. Things had the potential for change when Kennedy shoved Pitkanen in a scrum around the net and then fell on to Manny Legace's left leg. He picked up a goaltender interference penalty on the play, and while Legace tried to continue, after the next whistle, Legace pulled himself from play and the Pens got to see Justin Peters again.
However, it seems that the determining factor of why the Penguins weren't scoring wasn't the opposing goaltender, it was the Carolina trap, as usual. Luckily for the Penguins, Brian Pothier took a dumb penalty toward the end of the period, and the Penguins decided to capitalize on it for a change with a goal off the stick of Jordan Staal. Almost immediately thereafter, the period was over.
The third period began with an offensive zone penalty by Mike Rupp followed by a trip by Jordan Staal to give the Hurricanes 20 seconds of a 5-on-3 PP. The Penguins killed that and the ensuing 5-on-4. Later in the period, the referees made a VERY questionable holding call on Erik Cole, but Alex Goligoski had to ruin it by preventing a Canes player from getting to the bench to grab a new stick, earning him an interference call.
The Penguins weren't going to let this game go to overtime without a fight, though, when Evgeni Malkin silenced some critics and buried a beautiful wrister through traffic to make the score 2-1. As if to say, "Not so fast," Joni Pitkanen tied it on a slapshot where Marc-Andre Fleury was off his angle a bit.
Early in the extra frame, Malkin slumped over by the boards and went to the bench in obvious pain. I'm not entirely sure what happened, but it looked to me like he fell on his own. Hopefully this doesn't mean another reset of the injury counter.
A turnover and a defensive breakdown caused by two broken sticks allowed the Canes to control the last 20 seconds of the extra frame, and after a flurry of shots that included two goal posts, Jamie McBain shot the puck through a screen and into the net with 1.7 seconds remaining for the first goal of his career.
- The Penguins managed to block 8 shots in the first period, which is good, because they had 9 shots the Penguins didn't block. Three of them, including the goal, were from right in front of the net.
- I'll be so happy when it's not Lent anymore so that I don't have to hear that McDonald's commercial for the Filet-O-Fish.
- Fleury made a nice stop on a Chad LaRose breakaway in the second period. LaRose has never attempted a shot in the shootout.
- The Pens' defense in the second period was much improved over that of the first. Carolina had only 4 shots on goal, and even then only one was from a good scoring spot. Granted, it was a shot by Eric Staal, but the team was successful in limiting scoring chances.
- The referees are still vision-impaired, apparently. In the third period, the puck hit the safety netting 10 feet up and there was no whistle. I'd think that if there was one thing the officials should have their eyes on at all times, it's the puck.
- The Pitkanen goal in the third period was the only weak spot in Fleury's game today.
The game decided to get interesting at the end, for sure, but hopefully this style of play isn't indicative of the direction the Penguins are heading. "At least they got a point"...I guess.