The Pittsburgh Penguins went into Raleigh to face off against the Carolina Hurricanes and the Jordan Staal parade that happened to tag along with it, but the Penguins were unable to control a somewhat unknown character and fell to the Hurricanes 4-1.
It took over thirteen minutes, but the Penguins, once again, took a first period lead on the road. Chris Kunitz received a pass from Sidney Crosby and beat Cam Ward for his ninth goal of the season. The assist tied the Penguins captain with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos for the league lead in points with thirty-one. Very quietly, Kunitz has moved up to eighth in the race for the Art Ross trophy. Unlike previous road games, Pittsburgh would not be able to take the lead into the intermission. In the closing seconds of the period, Alex Semin fired a shot on net that Eric Staal was able to tip-in past Marc-Andre Fleury to tie the game at one. At the intermission, the Hurricanes had all the momentum and led the Penguins 13-9 in shots.
Instead of the “Jordan Staal show,” as many had hoped, the second period would be all about Jiri Tlusty. Tlusty opened the period with his eighth goal of the year at 4:09 to give Carolina the 2-1 lead. The Hurricanes didn’t stop there, when a little over a minute later Jeff Skinner wristed a shot past Fleury to put Carolina up 3-1. Finally, as Tlusty started the period, he ended the period as well. Almost like a mirror image to the first period, Tlusty gave the Hurricanes a 4-1 lead in the closing seconds of the period, his ninth of the year.
The Hurricanes did not need any more scoring after their four unanswered in the first two periods. The only action the third period saw was a skirmish between Robert Bortuzzo and Jay Harrison.
The Penguins travel to Montreal on Saturday night to meet up with the first place Montreal Canadiens and an old friend, former head coach Michel Therrien.
-Paul Martin didn’t see a shift the entire third period with what is being called a “lower body” injury.
-The Penguins continue to give their opponents many power play opportunities, this time it was only five (compared to seven the game before).
-Jordan Staal and Brandon Sutter were almost invisible against their former teams.
1. Eric Staal (1 goal, 2 assists)
2. Jiri Tlusty (2 goals, 1 assist)
3. Cam Ward (26 saves, .963 save %)