If you haven't heard by now, the Penguins are dealing with the injury bug (again). Injuries to Bryan Rust, Chad Ruhwedel, Kris Letang, and Matt Murray have the Penguins in a very tough spot at the moment. The depth will be tested for the foreseeable future, but the show stops for no one.
With the aforementioned injuries, the Penguins rolled out this lineup:
The Canes looked like this:
With 15:26 left in the period, a slick pass from Jake Guentzel found the stick of Brian Dumoulin in the slot to get the Penguins off on the right foot with an early 1-0 lead.
With eight minutes to go in the first frame, Matt Hunwick was called for slashing Carolina’s Derek Ryan. The Penguin penalty-killers applied great pressure to erase the power-play and preserve the 1-0 lead.
The period would eventually come to an end with the Penguins holding onto the one-goal lead. Even with the absences of Ruhwedel, Letang, and Justin Schultz, the defense held together and Dumoulin’s goal was the icing on the cake for a pretty solid first period.
Here are some numbers through one:
A minute into the period, former Penguin, Jordan Staal nearly found the equalizer for the Canes. Staal had a wide open net with Tristan Jerry out of position, but alas, the crossbar said no.
Moments after that, Frank Corrado was sent to the box for slashing, giving Carolina their second power-play of the evening. The penalty-killers displayed another strong performance and killed off this penalty as well.
With 13:35 left in the period, Elias Lindholm and company took advantage of poor positioning by Pittsburgh. Lindholm found Derek Ryan for chip in goal to tie the game at 1. Looking back at the sequence, it sure looked like no one wanted to walk with Elias. *(Full credit to Hooks for this reference)
With two minutes to go in the period, it looked as if Jaccob Slavin had given the Canes the lead. However, after review, it was determined that Derek Ryan made enough contact to Jarry to warrant goaltender interference.
Well, it turned out the goaltender interference call would mean absolutely nothing. Seconds after the review, Sebastian Aho would get the lead right back.
Then, with less than 90 seconds to go, the Penguins were granted their first power-play when Teuvo Teravainen tripped Jamie Oleksiak.
The period would end and the Penguins would take 37 seconds of power-play time into the final period of play.
Stats through two:
Bonus stat from Bob Grove. Is this good?
Thru two periods tonight, Pens' forwards have combined for 7 shots.— Bob Grove (@bobgrove91) December 30, 2017
Three minutes into the 3rd, Sebastian Aho was penalized for holding Ian Cole, giving the Penguins another chance to tie it up. The penalty would be killed off by Carolina.
The game would hit a lull period as time dwindled down. There was a long stretch of play in the middle of the period where no whistles were heard to stop play, further hurting the Penguins’ chances of completing the comeback.
The Penguins would eventually pull Jarry for the extra attacker with the hopes of getting the game-tying goal, but it was not meant to be. The Hurricanes would defeat the Penguins by a score of 2-1.
- Let’s streamline these final thoughts. It’s starting to sound like a broken record:
-5v5 - bad.
-defense - bad.
-dropping points in the tight Metropolitan Division - bad.
- The injuries the Penguins have gone through in recent times certainly doesn't help matters either.
- It seems like the Penguins take one step forward, then two steps back. A resilient win against Columbus on Wednesday is followed by a loss to Carolina.
- All you can hope for is that the injured bodies can get back into the lineup as soon as possible and contribute in a positive fashion so that the team can find some sort of groove to battle inside the division.
- The Penguins will return to action on New Year’s Eve when they travel to Detroit to take on the Red Wings.