The Carolina Hurricanes might be at the apex of their arc. Their young stars are now maturing stars. Jordan Staal is a battle-tested leader playing some of his best hockey. And the Pittsburgh Penguins’ blue line was sans their primary puck movers. Yet as in each of the three previous games, one goal separated the teams later in the third period.
The Penguins did not get the tying goal and have lost all four games to Carolina this season. Carolina won 2-1 at PNC Arena.
Carolina’s suffocating puck pressure, including their man-to-man defense, kept the ice titled toward the home team until the third period. The Penguins suddenly began doing so many things they dared not do in the first two periods, which was to their benefit.
“We were on our toes, playing in their face,” said Penguins winger Bryan Rust. “We knew we were behind — That’s how we should have been playing all game — fearless and playing on our toes. We gave ourselves a chance to tie the game up, and unfortunately, we fell a little short.”
After the first period, NaturalStatTrick.com reported the Penguins trailed 7-0 in high-danger chances and 15-5 in scoring chances. The second period wasn’t dramatically different.
The third period was. If the Penguins have any hope of a playoff run, they will need to figure out Carolina. Saturday provided the final chapter of the textbook.