before the match
Pittsburgh’s fourth line shuffling continues, this game with Ryan Poehling unavailable and Drew O’Connor returning to the NHL lineup.
Carolina’s lineup is less than ideal from their point of view, Sebastian Ahu just isn’t quite ready to return from injury. Brady Skegee left for personal reasons and substituted Anti Ranta at the network.
The first period
A very tight checking contest early on, it takes 10 minutes for Carolina to shoot on goal and the Penguins only have a select handful.
The game opened late in the first game when defenseman Jalen Chatfield checked Sidney Crosby for the first power play of the game. Crosby makes the pens pay by finding a loose puck and scoring from in front of the net on the power play to give the pens a 1-0 lead.
Sidney Crosby has 60 points (20G-40A) in 54 career games against the Carolina Hurricanes. Crosby’s 60 points vs. Carolina is the third most active player. pic.twitter.com/TrNcpZJfqP
– Pittsburgh Penguins (penguins) December 23, 2022
The lead only lasts 15 seconds, and Carolina seems to be waking up. Andrei Svechnikov clears the ball off the wall and then a few quick passes lead to a shot from far point that goes wide. But it runs off the boards straight into Martin Necas who tipes it past Tristan Jarry and suddenly the game is tied at 1-1.
If that wasn’t enough, after just 17 seconds Carolina did better and took the lead on another stunning quick goal. Jesper Kotkaniemi wins a clean clash against Evgeni Malkin and returns to Chatfield. Chatfield fires in the distance and Gary doesn’t track it well with traffic. The disk has eyes and finds the back of the net. 2-1 Carolina in a game that was 0-0 with only 33 seconds left.
Brian Dumoulin heads into the box for Carolina’s first solid game, but they can’t score more goals at this point.
The shots are only 9-8 for Pittsburgh. For the longest time there was nothing happening, and then there was almost nothing, everything was happening.
The second period
The second period was filled with eight minor penalties (five from Pittsburgh, three from Carolina), many of which appeared to be make-up calls after about a minute of the other team’s solid play. So that was interesting.
Despite all of each team’s special teams time, no one is able to score until the last minute of the period. With the Pens killing kick tackle goaltender Jason Zucker, the Hurricanes finally slip up and make an uncharacteristic error.
They have two defenders on the ice to play up their strength, but you’ll only see two forwards in Seth Jarvis and Kotkaniemi in this video below. This leads to big problems for them when Teddy Pluger skates through Jarvis. Raanta blocks Blueger’s attempt but Brock McGinn is there to follow up the shot, and Kotkaniemi can’t offer much defense. Pittsburgh’s short-handed goal made game 2 late in the second.
The shots in the second were 11-6 in favor of Carolina, who also had a huge advantage in power play time this period as well.
The two teams exchange some chances, Chris Letang sends Jarvis into the dressing room after stumbling into the net. But because it’s the third inning and all, the umpires forget where that team’s whistles were and the team is still playing.
Zucker is all around a defender and has a great chance of tightness but can’t beat Ranta.
But Brian Rust can. With 7:05 left, Pens leads 3-2 on Rust’s effort. Brent Burns pinches the wall, but the pens grab onto him and attack him. Carolina is back in the numbers (because she does, of course) with Rust almost 1-on-2 back. But the defender in front of him is attacking again, and the Canes don’t get off, so Rust uses his speed to beat Jordan Martinook, and before Jaccob Slavin can snag, Rust has already by hacking and recording. ranta.
Jordan Stahl has some personalities as well, and finds a goal related to the game. Staal skates by Blueger and rolls the puck into the net with his long reach before Dumoulin can get past him to help stop it. Game 3-3 with 4:26 remaining, another goal late in the game against the Pens from the Carolina captain.
This sends the actions into overtime.
Don’t stay there long though. Carolina makes some sensational passes as they quickly come up the ice, and Jakob Slaven makes it look easy as he slices home a forehand and curls in the game-winner after a sprawling Gary just 23 seconds into overtime.
- Early on, Pens scored on the power play and added a short run goal. They also killed all five of Carolina’s power plays. Formidable special teams play for Pittsburgh in this game. (Of course, the flip side of the coin is that the Hurricanes have a 3-1 advantage in 5v5 scoring.)
- Nice to see Rast’s vintage goal, he scored from the rush, using his edges to cut into the net. Very cool stuff. It seemed like it had been a long time since he found these kinds of opportunities regularly.
- It’s them, another game, another goal for Sidney Crosby. The captain hits 19 per season (which translates to a pace of 47 goals per season). It just seems automatic and it is now expected for him to go to the net, find the puck, and bury the puck.
- It was thought that Gary was only good when he had recently been playing at a much higher level, but Carolina showed how they can really test a goalkeeper. Nikas first goal was immediately after a shot wide of the end boards, completely changing the angle by kicking to the other side. Staal’s goal in the third period was basically the same, a long shot, which Staal saved and took to the other side of the ice himself. Could Garry have done better at long range than Chatfield who snuck in at the short side? Could. It’s hard to expect perfection, though, one night the goaltender saw 35 regulated shots and then was completely stopped to dry by the OT.
- Pens-less to 0-1-2 record against Carolina on the year. blah. It all comes down to one goal game. Carolina is tough right now – on a seven-game winning streak and with points in 13 straights and ice hockey’s best record in single-goal games. Pens couldn’t find a way around it, despite coming very close to doing so.
- In a close game against a talented team, O’Connor wasn’t destined to spend much ice time in this game, but coach Mike Sullivan may not have been happy with his first penalty. O’Connor only played one shift in the second period (as he had to have a shift, by virtue of coming out of the penalty area) for 0:17. O’Connor then played one bout in the third period for 52 seconds. And that was his evening.
- Both this game and the final CAR/PIT game this past Sunday saw McGinn score a big for the Penguins… only for Staal to score in the third period for the Hurricanes. They say history doesn’t repeat but it does chime and there was a huge sense of deja vu with the way all Penguin/Hurricane games have been played this season.
It’s an unsatisfying way to get into a short vacation break, but Pens will have to take the point and move on. Hopefully a few days will help them clear their minds and prepare, because next week they still have to play three matches in four days before getting to the outdoor Winter Classic in Boston.
Fortunately, the Hurricanes will be keeping the Penguins away for a few weeks before those teams meet later in January for the fourth and final time of the season. No doubt The Pens is hoping if this game follows the familiar scenario that it might at least have a different ending for once this season.