Well, that one will sting for a while.
Your Carolina Hurricanes went toe-to-toe with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins but ultimately fell 3-2 in the Steel City. As a Bengals/Reds fan and hater of all things Pittsburgh, this was doubly disappointing for me.
Normally you’d say, “Hey it’s the defending champs on the road, at least they hung in there.” But this was one the Canes had plenty of opportunities to win but just couldn’t find a way to get more than two scores out of a season-high 46 shots on goal.
Cliff Notes: This was a frenetic, fast-paced game. Somehow, there were zero penalties.
Carolina jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first after an Elias Lidstrom wrister from Noah Hanifan and Ryan Murphy.
The prolific Sidney Crosby tied things up in the second — No. 26 on the season. I thought, “Oh, shit … the wheels will fall off now.” But the boys in red hung tough and punched back. Lee Stempniak put the Canes back out front with this beauty, compliments of Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Taravanian:
The Penguins came out like a friggin’ firing squad at the beginning of the third. Cam Ward held his ground, but eventually succumbed to a Chris Kunitz goal about two minutes into the period. Marc-Andre Fleury replaced an injured Matthew Murray for the final frame and turned away shot after shot from Carolina. Carl Hagelin bagged the game winner with 4:15 to go. If you’re a masochist, you can watch the nauseating replay here.
Bill Peters pulled Ward with over two minutes to go, but we couldn’t muster many quality chances to tie the game.
Storm Category: Category 3. Really played well, just couldn’t convert on a lot of good looks.
Cane of the Game: Cam Ward. He didn’t really have a chance at any of the three Pens goals. He kept Pittsburgh in check and gave the Hurricanes a chance to win. Honorable mention: Sebastian Aho. When he’s on the ice, good things happen.
Penguin to Hate: Marc-Andre Fleury. The guy comes in cold to play the final period and makes 19 saves. What the hell?
Quick Analysis: Just a brutal loss. It sucks even more that we played so well and couldn’t get a point out of it. Silver lining is, this team is capable of going on the road against a top-tier team and can take a few punches and respond. Just frustrating that we couldn’t get another goal or two out of all of those shots. Hopefully, they learn and build on this one.
What’s Next: Tonight’s loss snapped a three-game winning streak and drops Carolina to 15-12-7 on the season.
The Hurricanes play host to the Chicago Blackhawks Friday at PNC Arena.
Cam Ward photo credit: Gregg Forwerck, Carolina Hurricanes.