Another road game followed the usual script, the Pens get any early lead, maintain a healthy advantage of puck possesion and hold a shot advantage (23-18 through two). Everything was going just according to plan, up until pesky Ray Whitney got Carolina back in it. The game was decided in a shootout, a virtual coin-flip that went Pittsburgh's way tonight.
- How about that Mike Rupp goal? I didn't even know he had any moves like that. Goes to show: give an NHL player that much time and space -- even if he's got 27 NHL goals in 341 games -- and he just might surprise you.
- Evgeni Malkin always brings his "A" game playing the Hurricanes and tonight was no different. His pass up the wall sprung Rupp's goal and then Geno buried a wrister high and short-side from a harsh angle that was simply unfair.
- Similiarly, Ray Whitney loves playing against the Penguins. That's 20 points in his last 12 regular season games against Pittsburgh. He flashed a quick release and used Kris Letang as a screen for his first goal, on his second he posted up in front of the goal and used excellent position to deflect defenseman Tim Gleason's point blast in for a goal.
- Cam Ward also did his part, robbing Bill Guerin from point-blank. Billy G basically shoveled it right into Ward, looked like Guerin did more to blow it than Ward did to make a great save AND Guerin probably had a second to steady the puck and have a completely empty net. Still, credit where credit's due, Ward flashed the glove and kept the puck out.
- 14 of the 18 skaters that dressed got into the physical game -- only Malkin, Guerin, Jay McKee and Mark Eaton didn't have a hit credited to them by the Carolina scorekeeper.
- Another "o-fer" night for the power-play. Is this becoming a disturbing trend?
- Another 100% success rate for the penalty-kill. Is this becoming an encouraging trend?
- Munch munch munch. Don't mind Sergei Gonchar eating up all those minutes; led the Pens with 27:44 of icetime tonight.
- Random memory: remember last season when Michel Therrien had Alex Goligoski playing winger? How long ago does that seem as Goose has become a mainstay NHL defensemen. And Therrien used Brooks Orpik as a forward just a couple years ago. How wonderful that those days are long gone, in general.
A win is a win is a win, even if it comes after a shootout, still counts the same in the standings as Dallas' 6-0 pasting of Nashville tonight. To a man the Penguins know that there's work to be done, adjustments to make and areas for improvement in every facet of the game.
The team is winning consistently and has played a good string of road games. The highs won't be too high for this bunch (a couple wins in October is nothing compared to winning in June) so it'll be exciting to watch them make some tweaks and move forward. Namely, get the power-play clicking and keep on keeping the shots down on Marc-Andre Fleury. Onward, back to Lady Mellon.