Each team skated into this game with something to prove. Carolina looked to make a statement in the series with a big win on home ice while Pittsburgh, much like any playoff team, wanted to prove they can keep it up on the road.
Carolina shot out of the gate early thanks to the stick of Matt Cullen. It was the sort of goal Versus announcers would call a "bang-bang play." The RBC crowd and speakers erupted in cheers as Carolina took the quick 1-0 lead.
Versus flashed up a stat that would ultimately come back to bite the Canes. "Carolina is 5-0 in the playoffs when scoring first." Make it 5-1.
Shortly after the Carolina goal, Pitt picked up a power-play opportunity and capitalized quickly. Evgeni Malkin intercepted a clearing attempt, skated in on Cam Ward and deked him out of his pads.
Pittsburgh looked a bit out of their element early on but by the 10-minute mark of the first period the game was more or less entirely in their hands. Nothing exemplified this more than Sidney Crosby's goal on a beautiful pass from Bill Guerin that beat Ward glove side with less than a minute remaining.
In a game of "anything you can do I can do too," Malkin picked up his second goal of the night (12th of the playoffs) less than 30 seconds later to make it 3-1 with only 12 seconds remaining in the first.
The second period started out in Pitt's favor early but Cam Ward was up for the challenge. Max Talbot had a tremendous opportunity to put the game at 4-1 but couldn't control the bouncing pass.
The remainder of the second period flew by with relative ease. Score on the way out was the same as the way in : 3-1 Pittsburgh.
Two minutes into the third Carolina won a huge faceoff in the Pittsburgh zone. Erik Cole put a shot on Fleury that was blocked in front but the huge rebound was devoured by Sergei Samsonov to put the game at 3-2.
Not long after Carolina brought it within one, Talbot once again had a chance on Cam Ward thanks to a breakout pass from Malkin. Ward was up to the task and knocked it aside, keeping Talbot off the scoresheet and Carolina in the game.
Carolina added a lot of pressure in the third period, sort of a do-or-die attack on Marc-Andre Fleury. However the ice was still tilting in Pitt's favor. With roughly eight minutes remaining in the game, Ruslan Fedotenko stepped up big on a drop pass from Malkin to beat Ward and make it a two-goal game. 4-2
Carolina sent Ward to the bench for the extra attacker but failed to have much chance with it. On what can only be deemed a "good bounce" for Pitt, Carolina won a neutral zone faceoff but sent it right into their own net. Craig Adams, present in the faceoff circle for Pittsburgh, was credited with the goal.
You may remember at the end of Game 2 when Carolina tried sending a message with fights against Miro Satan and Kris Letang. Bill Guerin did the message sending for Pitt in Game 3, only instead of using his fists he tagged another goal to make it a 6-2 final.
After obvious frustration poured out between Ryan "high stick" Bayda and Philippe Boucher, the last 20 seconds finally ticked down to give Pitt the win and 3-0 series lead.
Pittsburgh have won 7 of their last 8 and will look to complete the series sweep over Carolina Tuesday night.
11 down, 5 to go.