The Penguins decide to give Casey DeSmith the game in net, but the rest of their lineup is the same as they try to ride the same lines and lineup to another win.
Lined up and ready for hockey pic.twitter.com/ctbOEPqz98— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 18, 2022
And the Hurricanes are mostly as expected too, as they look to protect home ice and win their fifth game in a row.
Great start for Pittsburgh, who get the game’s first power play, but don’t get much with it.
Overall, the Penguins look like the rested team, and Carolina looks like a banged up team who played last night, because that’s what they are.
Hurricanes goalie Pyotr Kochetkov is the biggest reason the first ends with no score, the Pens test him early and often with several threatening looking chances, but Kochetkov is up to the challenge.
Shots in the first are 11-7 Pittsburgh.
Carolina gets on the board early in the second, and it’s the familiar targets of Brian Dumoulin and Jan Rutta fishing the puck out of their net again. Rutta loses a board battle behind the net, Dumoulin is trapped in a no-man’s land and hesitates to jump away from the net, and just ends up getting used as a screen by Derek Stepan. Stepan rips a shot that DeSmith can’t track and it’s 1-0 Hurricanes.
The Pens compound their troubles when Chad Ruhwedel goes to the penalty box on the very next shift following the goal. Pittsburgh kills it off.
Dumoulin draws a penalty and Martin Necas heads to the box but the Pittsburgh power play can’t equalize the score.
Finally, the PIttsburgh power play gets it done on their fourth try. Jaccob Slavin heads off the ice after he sends the puck over the glass and Sidney Crosby wins the faceoff. Kris Letang works it over to Evgeni Malkin who feathers a shot/pass toward the front of the net for Rickard Rakell to get a deflection on it. Great way to beat a hot goalie with a tip from point blank range. 1-1 tie game with 7:40 left in the second.
RAK’N AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE! pic.twitter.com/o7pUqhyCV5— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 18, 2022
After a 4-1 power play advantage, you know that it would even out and sure enough it does. Dumoulin goes off for hooking and then Ryan Poehling at the end of the PK is on the forecheck and knocks a Carolina player over and that’s enough to earn 17 seconds of a 5v3 for Carolina.
Almost instantly though the ref show continues with the zebras sending off Stefan Noesen for a high-stick in front of the net
Shots in the second are 13-6 Carolina, who wake up and take over a bit. The Pens are lucky to leave the period still tied and in a position to get a result.
Carolina doesn’t give up many odd man rushes, but they turn the puck over while changing the defense and Kasperi Kapanen is off to the races for a 2-on-1. Kapanen lays a pass over for Brock McGinn and the former Hurricane gets a friendly bounce off the Carolina defender’s stick on the block attempt and the puck flutters into the net. 2-1 Pens take their first lead of the game with 14:57 remaining.
Carolina fights back and ties the game. Letang drops Jordan Staal in the corner, but the second Canes player in finds the puck before Danton Heinen can and gets it back to the point. Brady Skjei fires away and with all kinds of traffic in front, the puck finds a way in on the short side of DeSmith. 2-2 game with 11:43 to go in regulation.
Carolina gets back out in front with 6:27 left with great work down low. Eventually Jesper Fast out-positions P.O. Joseph and centers the puck where Staal uses his big frame to shrug off Ruhwedel and angle the puck past DeSmith. 3-2 Carolina back in front.
Pittsburgh has to pull the goalie in an attempt to tie the game. Letang sprawls desperately to keep the puck out of the net to extend the game. The Pens take their timeout to give their top players a breather. It doesn’t work and the Hurricanes skate out with the win.
- Without the services of the injured Sebastien Aho, Carolina had an unenviable choice about line matching. They decided to stick with what they usually do and check Malkin with Jordan Staal. But with Aho not around to keep Sidney Crosby’s line in check, it put a lot of stress on Kochetkov.
- Very good game for Kapanen, who actually was using his speed and making proper decisions with the puck. It’s fairly damning that such an observation of “should be scoring forward actually making you take notice of his play” is even notable, but at this point you gotta take what he has to give in a game when it is more than nothing.
- Speaking of nothing, Heinen’s defensive play to not find the puck on the game-tying goal is a bad look. Heinen did have three shots on goal — including a really nice deflection from in front in the first period that was a dangerous scoring chance — but he isn’t adding much in a top-six role.
- Before Staal’s game winning goal, DeSmith gloved the puck and chose to fling it back out into play. The Pens never recovered and the puck was in the back of their net soon after. It wasn’t even like DeSmith was moving it to an open player, really suspect decision there.
- DeSmith was tremendous earlier, but it was also an odd decision to even play him and not Tristan Jarry in this game, especially seeing Carolina not play their best goalie last night to keep him ready for tonight. The Pens, inexplicably, chose to leave their best goalie on the bench.
- Big missed opportunity for the Pens. They can’t win ‘em all, but Carolina played last night and didn’t have their best forward in Aho. And Pittsburgh found a way to lose this one. That hurts a little, but these two teams will meet again on Thursday in Pittsburgh and give another opportunity for the Pens to see how they can measure up against a quality team. So far at 0-1-1 against Carolina, it’s not been very impressive.
The seven-game winning streak is history, but the Pens can’t feel sorry for themselves too much. The red hot Rangers come to town on Tuesday night for another clash of two of the better Metropolitan Division teams.