The Pittsburgh Penguins had a chance to move within one point of the Metro Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes and raced to a 2-0 lead in the first period. The lead was gone midway through the third period, and a Penguins bench penalty for too many men on the ice gave Carolina a power play with 2:09 remaining.
The Penguins PK killed the penalty to force overtime and each team earned a point. However, Pittsburgh-native Vincent Trocheck baited Kris Letang into a penalty late in overtime for a 4v3 Carolina power play. Andrei Svechnikov (23) flipped a rebound into the net for the 3-2 Carolina win.
Letang, head coach Mike Sullivan, and captain Sidney Crosby had a few words for the officials after the game.
The Penguins three-game winning streak became a four-game points streak, and they trail Carolina by four points in the Metro Division. Carolina also has two games in hand.
Penguins defenseman Mark Friedman and Trocheck fought late in the third period, too.
Everything looked good for the Penguins until the start of the second period. The Penguins’ pressure and control immediately vanished and Carolina pressured the Penguins for nearly 40 minutes. Penguins backup goalie Casey DeSmith was stellar, if not great. He stopped 15 of 16 shots in the second period, and 26 of the first 27 shots.
DeSmith stopped 36 of 38 shots before overtime. Antti Raanta stopped 21 of 23 in regulation.
However, Jordan Staal scored a pair of goals, including a deflection midway through the third period to erase the Penguins’ lead.
Carolina flipped the script on the Penguins for the second and most of the third period. After early Penguins domination, Carolina blitzed the Penguins, scooped turnovers with an industrial-sized ladle, and did everything but fill the net.
In many ways, the game was the opposite of the Carolina 4-3 win at PPG Paints Arena nearly two weeks ago. In that game, Carolina had an early lead and held on as the Penguins surged through the last two periods. Friday night, it was the Penguins that claimed the multi-goal lead then held on for the last 40.
Carolina was blanked by the Washington Capitals, 4-0 on Thursday, while the Penguins steamrolled the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-1. Both teams picked up where they left off.
The Pittsburgh Penguins scored a pair of goals and had eight high-danger chances. They allowed one high-danger chance and no goals.
In the first five minutes, the Penguins converted their momentum to a lead. Dominik Simon outraced defenders to nullify an icing. The Penguins forecheck created a turnover and the Penguins’ top line was able to get on the ice in the offensive zone.
Marcus Pettersson grabbed a turnover inside the offensive blue line and immediately snapped the puck to Jake Guentzel at the side of the net. Guentzel (27) neatly deflected the puck behind goalie Antti Raanta.
Carolina slightly outshot the Penguins, 11-10 in the first period but the good looks were the Penguins, including their second goal which was first-line magic. Three passes and about 150 feet, Sidney Crosby (18) finished the Penguins tic-tac-toe speed rush from the slot. Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust assisted.
Crosby had two points (1-1-2) in the first period.
Carolina dominated the second period. Absolutely dominated. The Penguins helplessly flailed, just as Carolina did in the first period. However, Carolina’s 14 scoring chances weren’t enough to get more than one marker.
Nino Niederreiter intercepted Chad Ruhwedel’s D-to-D pass behind the Penguins net and the Penguins scrambled to regroup. Before they could, former Penguins Stanley Cup winner Jordan Staal (7) knocked the loose puck into the net.
Not even a power play later in the third period could reverse the Penguins’ fortunes and the Carolina momentum.
Kris Letang played his 916th NHL game, passing Mario Lemieux for third place on the Pittsburgh Penguins all-time list behind Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.