Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Critical points game for the Penguins

By: MF,

Hello to everyone! I am glad to be back and to cover the Pittsburgh Penguins as they face the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh. This game is a proverbial 4-point swing for both teams as they are in a tight race to get into the playoffs. The Penguins are only two points out of the final Wild Card spot for the Eastern Conference with 45 points. However, they would have to jump over three teams to claim it. The Hurricanes are only two points behind the Penguins with 43. This is a critical game for the Penguins, not just in the points race, but also essential for them building some momentum.

Special teams will be key in tonight’s game as the Hurricanes beat the Penguins 2-1 with both goals coming on the power play. The penalty kill for the Penguins and power play will be a focal point. The penalty kill has 25 consecutive kills and has been up to the task. Justin Faulk (Hurricanes) is key to the Hurricanes’ power play, so look for the Penguins to pay particular attention to him. They will have to stay focused and keep playing their game. Eric Fehr has been a great penalty killer and is second in the league with three shorthanded goals. Fehr and Matt Cullen have been outstanding, year long, on the penalty kill. Cullen has a team-high of 110:26 shorthanded minutes. Another big player on the penalty kill is Kevin Porter. Porter has zero power play goals against in 39:47 minutes. To top things off, the penalty kill has a season success rate of 85.2%, which is fifth in the league. Also, the Penguins power play has been fire having scored at least one goal in eight of their last ten games. During that stretch, they have gone 11-for-32 (34.4%).

On the offense, Phil Kessel has registered four points (one goal and three assists) in his last five games. While Evgeni Malkin has points in five of his last six games, where is has two goals, seven assists, and nine points. Look for them to get involved early along with Sidney Crosby, who has been on fire.

In goal will be Marc-Andre Fleury, who is 2-1-1 in his last four starts. He has a 1.97 goals-against-average and .943 save percentage, during that time.

The Penguins have to stay focused and capitalize on special teams. This game is an important game for the Penguins, and they need to respond accordingly. Lets Go Pens!  

The Pens lineup is as follows: 

Kunitz - Crosby - Perron
Hornqvist - Malkin - Kessel
Huhnhackl - Bonino - Rust
Porter - Cullen - Fehr

Maatta - Letang
Dumoulin - Lovejoy
Cole - Daley

Fleury in the net! 

Play by Play
Pens 2 Hurricanes 3 OT

The Hurricanes come out with the 3-2 win in overtime. Not a great start by the Pens, but they picked up their game and battled. Sad to see them lose the game like that. Discipline is critical in those type of situations.

2:10 - SKINNER SCORES ON THE PP! The Hurricanes change things up at the point and Skinner finds his way to the side of the net. Skinner sits all alone and puts the puck in. Fleury had no chance. 3-2 Hurricanes

2:20 - Hurricanes will get a 4 on 3 power play chance as Malkin is called for hooking. Huge kill for the Pens.

2:42 - Fleury with a easy save on a 2 on 1 chance for the Hurricanes.

3:03 - Crosby's slapper goes off a Hurricanes' stick.

3:31 - Fehr with some great stick handling. Doing work in the offensive zone.

4:42 - Hurricanes are going with two defensemen and one forward. The Pens doing the opposite.

5:00 - 60 minutes of regulation wasn't enough! The Pens need to keep playing with the same passion and fire! Lets Go Pens!

3rd Period
0:00 - This game is headed to overtime!

0:20 - The Pens showing they want this game and bad!

2:02 - The first line once again is knocking on Ward's doorstep. The puck just stays out of the net.

4:57 - Crosby is an unstoppable force right now. He is controlling the puck every time he steps on the ice. Seems like a matter of time.

8:10 - Crosby is having another great night. He makes a quick move to get around Hainsey and enter the zone. Then gets the puck from behind the net and gets away from two players.

10:43 - Malkin tries for a wrap around chance, but Ward just gets the toe over to make the save!

11:29 - Another successful penalty kill for the Pens.

13:29 - Cole sits for slashing and roughing. Hainsey gets roughing. Hurricanes end up with a power play opportunity.

13:58 - KUNITZ SCORES! Hornqvist keeps the puck in the zone, Crosby picks up the puck behind the net! Crosby outlets to Kunitz in the slot! He beats Ward! 2-2 tie game.

15:50 - The pace of the game has definitely picked up with not many whistles. Fleury has been sharp.

17:25 - Letang lays a hard hit on E. Staal. Letang is having a great game, so far.

20:00 - Third period is underway! The Pens have to get more shots and pressure on Ward! Lets Go Pens!

2nd Period
0:00 - Second period ends with the Hurricanes leading the Pens 2-1.

1:44 - Fleury with a huge pad save on a shot by E. Staal.

2:31 - J. Staal looks to have a breakaway chance, but Letang closes in on him and takes the puck away. Great defensive work by Letang.

3:42 - Things have been picking up for the Pens. They have more jump to their game.

6:38 - McClement gets behind the defense and ends up with the puck in front. Fleury comes out with a quick poke check to break things up.

8:07 - Ward comes out to challenge Fehr on his shot. He is able to make the save.

9:31 - LETANG SCORES! The Pens win an offensive zone faceoff and it goes back to Letang! He rips one on net past Ward! 2-1 Hurricanes.

10:16 - Versteeg Scores. Versteeg fires the puck high off the boards and he gets a lucky bounce. It goes off the glass onto Fleury's back and intot he net. 2-0 Hurricanes

13:51 - Letang and Crosby fly up ice. Letang passes over to Crosby. Crosby has little time or space, but gets a shot off. Not sure if Ward got a piece or it went wide.

14:41 - Daley saves the day by getting his stick on the loose puck that was shot by Skinner!

16:08 - E. Staal Scores. Three Pens go behind the net to battle for the puck, including both D-man. The puck props out in front to Versteeg, who gives to Staal. Staal is all alone at the side and doesn't miss. 1-0 Hurricanes.

16:40 - Ward just gets his left pad down to shot Fehr's shot.

18:47 - Fleury comes out to cut down the angle and ends up making a big save.

20:00 - We are back for the second period! The Pens need to ramp up their play and pressure Ward! Lets Go Pens!

1st Period
0:00 - First period ends with things scoreless and five shots a piece.

1:55 - Another good shift for the third line.

4:08 - Great kill by the Pens. Fleury was solid in net. Daley is set free.

6:08 - The penalty kill for the Pens will be tested as Daley is called for interference.

8:32 - Kessel fires a rocket shot that knocks off the helmet of Ward! Wow!

10:03 - Shots are 3-1 in favor of the Pens. Not much getting to the nets.

11:14 - Some good back and forth hockey by both teams. Neither team has much of an advantage right now.

13:30 - The power play chances for the Pens come to an end and this one is still scoreless.

15:21 - Regular power play for another 1:51 for the Pens.

15:30 - Now a 5 on 3 power play chance for the Pens for nine seconds as Malone sits for delay of game.

17:21 - Power play chance for the Pens as Lindholm is sent to the box for hooking.

17:26 - Crosby makes his way around Lindholm to get to the front. Ward lays down the paddle to make the save.

20:00 - The puck has dropped in Raleigh! The Pens need to come out and get on the board early! Time to show the Hurricanes who is boss! Lets Go Pens!  

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