Perhaps Harold Ramis directed this game, and Bill Murray starred. What seems to have happened again…and again between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes followed the same script, minus a Ned Ryerson cameo.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored the only goal in the shootout, and the Penguins finally woke up from their Groundhog Day nightmare against Carolina with a 2-1 shootout win. It was the Penguins first win over Carolina since the 2021-22 season.
The Penguins win moved them five points back of Carolina for the second wild card, but the Penguins also have two games in hand.
The teams reached overtime for the third time in their last six games, and all six have been one-goal games. Carolina had won the previous five, including two in OT.
Thursday, the Penguins seemingly finally broke the script with a late power play in overtime after a game of man-advantage futility. However, despite peppering Carolina goalie Pyotr Kochetkov with shots, Crosby hit the post, and the Penguins’ power play ended the game 0-for 5.
For two periods, the Penguins game against Carolina was the very embodiment of a low-event game. The Hurricanes had won 10 of their last 13 games against the Penguins, who are clinging to the back of the pack in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour was 10-3-0 against the Penguins in his career.
Crosby (19) scored one of those goals that has made him both one of the all-time greats and the NHL’s 13th-highest scorer in history. The Penguins top line orchestrated an impressive three-touch tally when winger Jake Guentzel blocked a clearing attempt and tapped it to Rickard Rakell, swooping into the slot.
Rakell spun a no-look backhand pass to Crosby racing to the net, where the Penguins captain perfectly redirected the pass into the top corner.
Alex Nedeljkovic, making his third start in four games, was pretty good. He didn’t have to make many saves in the first 40 minutes, and the Carolina goal was the result of one of his saves.
In the middle of the second period, Nedeljkovic stopped a tight-angle shot by Teuvo Teravainen, but the rebound hit Penguins defenseman Kris Letang’s skate. Whoops. The puck caromed off Letang’s skate blade and trickled over the goal line, beyond Nedeljkovic’s reach.
The last five games, beginning last season, have been one-goal games, so it seemed fitting the teams were tied after two.
The shots were nearly even after two, as well. Carolina led 16-15. Carolina netminder Pyotr Kochetkov was similarly good, except for the Crosby goal.
One statistical anomaly was the scoring chance differential. According to NaturalStatTrick.com, the scoring chances heavily favored Carolina, 20-8 after two periods.
Nothing really changed through most of the third period, either. Nedeljkovic stopped 21 of the first 22 shots, and Kochetkov stopped 20 of the first 21 shots.
Defensemen led both teams in shots. Letang had four shots on goal, as did Carolina’s Jaccob Slavin. Each team also hit one post. In the first period, Rickard Rakell deked Kchetkov with a backhander but hit the post.
Rakell is still looking for his first goal of the season. Carolina forward Martin Necas loudly clanged the post with a longer wrister, as well.
Wednesday, Crosby said he felt the power play needed to make a difference and that the Penguins special teams would be influential. However, while the Penguins earned four power plays, the man advantage was anything but significant.
In regulation, the Penguins’ power play struggled against the aggressive Carolina penalty kill. Carolina disrupted the Penguins’ zone entries and the man-advantage had precious few scoring chances. The Penguins were 0-for-4 with five shots.