Sidney Crosby scored an empty netter. Tristan Jarry withstood a 43-shot barrage with a few spectacular saves, and the Pittsburgh Penguins secondary scoring did its job as Brian Boyle and Danton Heinen lit the lamp. After two previous losses, the Penguins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday.
Carolina’s top center Sebastian Aho scored with the extra attacker after Crosby (20) scored the EN goal. Then Zach Aston-Reese (2) salted the fields behind him with the Penguins second empty netter. The Penguins are now six points behind Carolina for the Metro Division lead.
The Penguins earned three points (1-1-1) against Carolina in the last three games, while Carolina earned four (2-1-0).
“We want to battle that team because they’re the top team, and they’re a good measuring stick for us. They’ve been good for the last few years. They’ve been the dangerous team. Their work ethic is probably the best. Just go into the game, and I have a good impression of yourself and bring a tough challenge,” Kris Letang said Saturday.
The Penguins may not have owned the play or even had the better of the shots or chances in the first period, but they got the only goal. Later in the first period, Teddy Blueger used Wayne Gretzky’s office as Brian Boyle charged to the net. Boyle (7) shed his defenders and was uncovered for the quick strike near the crease.
Carolina outshot the Penguins only 9-6 in the first period.
Jarry was the difference in the second period. Carolina had several Grade-A chances, but Jarry made a variety of saves, including a cat-quick kick save on Sebastian Aho during a Carolina power play.
Carolina goalie Antti Raanta was almost as good. Almost.
In the middle of the second period, Penguins winger Evan Rodrigues nearly stuffed a wraparound attempt across the line, but replays showed the puck didn’t entirely cross the line.
Later in the period, the Pittsburgh Penguins second line and “E-Rod” did get a score. Evgeni Malkin raced wide behind the Carolina defense, setting a quick chain of events in motion. As Malkin and Evan Rodrigues went to the net, Danton Heinen (13) neatly deflected Mike Matheson’s shot for a 2-0 Penguins lead.
Tristan Jarry was brilliant. Not even his own turnover in the final seconds of the second period could unravel his gem.
Pittsburg Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan shuffled his blue line for the first time in several months. Brian Dumoulin returned to the lineup but slotted on the second pair with John Marino. Mike Matheson remained on the top pair with Kris Letang, and Marcus Pettersson was a surprise scratch. Pettersson was briefly injured on Friday night after blocking a shot but returned to the game and practiced on Saturday. Chad Ruhwedel and Mark Friedman stayed together as the third pair.
Ruhwedel was injured on his first shift of the game when his face absorbed a clearing attempt that caromed off the glass. He left a little blood on the ice as he went to the room but returned several minutes later.
Evan Rodrigues led the Penguins with four shots. Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce led all players with seven.
Jarry stopped 41 of 43 shots. Raanta saw much less action but stopped 19 of 21.
Blueger (0-2-2) and Boyle (1-1-1) had two points each.