Two-point conversion good: Penguins 8, Carolina 3

Justin K. Aller

Penguins successfully avoid losing three in a row for entire season

After a downright torpid performance against New Jersey earlier in the week, one might be forgiven for believing that the Penguins were going to take it easy in the last few games in order to rest up for the playoffs now that their fate had been sealed. The pace of this game showed otherwise.

Still, Carolina goalie Justin Peters turned away bunches of chances until Eric Staal took an inadvisable slashing penalty on Jussi Jokinen. The Penguins capitalized on the man advantage to make the score 1-0 when Evgeni Malkin pounded home his ninth goal of the year, assisted by returning player James Neal and new father Marc-Andre Fleury.

The period would end after two straight power plays for the Hurricanes that the Penguins successfully killed.

Following a tripping penalty by Tuomo Ruutu early in the second period, James Neal wristed a puck over Justin Peters's glove hand for his 19th of the season, assisted by Kris Letang and Chris Kunitz.

After a frantic flurry in front of the Carolina net, Kevin Westgarth got his first goal of the year and second of his career to cut the lead to 2-1 after Eric Staal poked the puck away from Fleury. Justin Faulk got the secondary assist.

The Penguins would get the goal back on a 2-on-1 odd man rush. Flanked by Pascal Dupuis, Jussi Jokinen shot the puck and Peters made the glove save, but couldn't hold on, and promptly fell over backward like he got shot. Jokinen popped in the easy rebound to make the score 3-1. Assists went to Dupuis and Jarome Iginla. However, Ruutu decided that he'd like to make up for his transgression earlier in the game when he tossed in a puck that bounced off defenseman Simon Despres to cut the lead back to one. Assists went to Jordan Staal and Patrick Dwyer.

Almost immediately thereafter, Westgarth added his second goal of the game to tie the score at three. The shot came from a faceoff that deflected off of Paul Martin in a really fluky situation. Unfortunately, the flukes count just as much as the beautiful goals. Assists went to Jamie McBain and Eric Staal. And thus ended the second period.

When Jared Staal ran over Fleury early in the third period, the Penguins made him pay. James Neal ripped a shot past Justin Peters, assisted by Malkin and Martin. Neal would finish off his hat trick very shortly thereafter when he would one-time a pass from Evgeni Malkin. Paydirt. Secondary assist went to Kunitz.

If you thought the Pens were done...oh, no, no they weren't. Brenden Morrow got into the act when he buried a pass from Brandon Sutter. Secondary assist went to Matt Cooke, and that made the score 6-3.

For the extra point after touchdown attempt, Matt Cooke made a sick move through the legs of Justin Faulk and scored, assisted by Morrow and Martin. Capping things off for the two-point conversion, Pascal Dupuis scored from Jokinen and Iginla, ending the game at 8-3.

  • First period stats: Pittsburgh shots 11, Carolina shots 5. The Penguins had 1 power play and converted, while the Hurricanes had 2 chances and failed on both. The Penguins won 10 faceoffs to the Hurricanes' 6, and Carolina outhit Pittsburgh, 9 to 4.
  • Second period stats: Carolina had 16 shots to Pittsburgh's 14. Each team had one power play and both failed to convert. The Pens won 15 faceoffs to the Canes' 12, and both teams registered 7 hits.
  • Third period stats: Penguins had 10 shots, Carolina 9. Each team had one power play, and the Penguins converted their attempt. The Penguins won 13 faceoffs while the Canes won only 7. Lastly, Carolina had 7 hits to the Penguins 6.
Time for the playoffs. We won't know for sure until tomorrow night, though, who the Penguins face in round one.
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