RALEIGH, N.C. — The Pittsburgh Penguins have scored at least one power-play goal in eight consecutive games, and usually have looked quite menacing in the process.
But while they did score on one of their five chances with the man-advantage during their 3-2 loss to Carolina at PNC Arena Sunday evening, they were not as crisp and efficient as they have been most of the time in recent weeks.
They generated just five shots on goal during a total of six minutes and 15 seconds when Carolina was shorthanded, and got their only goal while up a man when Rickard Rakell deflected in an Evgeni Malkin pass at 12:20 of the second period.
So, did the Hurricanes do something special while penalty-killing or did the Penguins just have a bit of an off-night?
Mike Sullivan said it was “probably a little bit of both,” but made it clear that he wasn’t interested in criticizing his power play.
“They find a way to score a goal,” he said. “They make a real nice play off that one faceoff. Our power play, for quite some time now — the last, probably, 10 or 12 games — has been humming, and they found a way to score a goal again tonight. So it’s hard to be critical of that group. They’re getting it done for us.”
The teams combined for 55 shots, but one by Carolina winger Martin Necas during the first period stood out above all the others.
Necas got the puck in front of the Penguins’ net, pulled it backward between his legs, then put his stick between his legs and flipped a shot at the net.
Casey DeSmith seemed to keep track of the puck the entire time, however, and stopped Necas’ shot with his left leg.
“He didn’t change the angle too much on me,” DeSmith said, calling his stop “a position save.”
Jeff Carter will turn 38 in two weeks, and his age often shows.
While it’s a credit to him that he still can perform at this level at that age, it’s no surprise that he is not the player he was when he was younger.
He did, however, show midway through the first period that he’s still capable of an eye-catching burst of speed on occasion.
Carter had a bit of skating room and accelerated down the right wing, but was unable to get a shot past Carolina goalie Pyotr Kochetkov.
“I was able to come all the way back and around the (Penguins) net,” Carter said. “I didn’t have to stop. I was the first one back and did a reverse to, I think it was P.O (Joseph), and just kept going.”
Ready for the rematch
The Pittsburgh Penguins, losers of a pair of 3-2 games to the Hurricanes this season, won’t have to wait long to try to get a little revenge.
The teams will meet against Thursday at PPG Paints Arena, where Carolina won the first game of the season Nov. 29.
The Penguins, understandably, are looking forward to it.
“We owe them one,” Brock McGinn said. “They’re battles, tight-checking games. We’re looking forward to that one.”