Penguins Awaken in 3rd Period, Beat Hurricanes 4-1

The Pittsburgh Penguins can thank Ty Conklin for keeping them in the game until the 3rd period before they finally awoke to score 4-goals and beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 on Saturday night.  Despite playing arguably his worst two periods of hockey this season, Evgeni Malkin recovered in the 3rd to get a goal and 2-assists and was crowned the game’s 1st star.  Ty Conklin was the 2nd star giving up 1 goal on 28-shots, and Petr Sykora was the 3rd star with a goal and an assist.  The New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers won their games on Saturday to keep the 1st through 3rd spots in the Atlantic the same, with 2-points separating the 3 teams.

In the 1st period, it was largely the Carolina Hurricanes show.  With the exception of the 2nd line of Staal, Christensen and Talbot, the Penguins played very flat.  At 4:40, Erik Cole and Brooks Orpik fought to a tie with a lot of dancing and few punches thrown.  The Hurricanes notched their lone tally at 8:27 on a wrist shot by Sergei Samsonov.  Andrew Ladd and Rod Brind’Amour picked up the assists.  But it wasn’t for a lack of trying as the Hurricanes went on to pepper the Pittsburgh net with 15-shots in the period, taking advantage of several bad turnovers by the Penguins.  It seemed as if the Penguins were not skating and making bad decisions in their own zone.  Evgeni Malkin made a few notable bad decisions and blind passes that ended up on the Canes’ sticks, and Sergei Gonchar seemed unable to clear the zone.  As a result, the Penguins were unable to generate much offense, getting just 8-shots through the end of the period despite getting a 4-minute powerplay for a high-stick put on Max Talbot that resulted in blood.  “The first period we didn’t play that well at all and we got an earful,” Christensen said, referring to unspecified comments made between periods.  The Penguins were 0-for-2 on the power play and killed off their lone man-down situation as Jordan Staal sat for holding the stick. 

In the 2nd, neither team was able to find the back of the net as the Penguins improved their play and outshot the Hurricanes 10-7.  Each team had a power play opportunity, but failed to convert. 

In the 3rd, the Penguins came to life by working hard and capitalizing on their chances.  The first goal came just 37 seconds into the period as Erik Christensen buried the puck into the open side of the net past Cam Ward.  The play was set up beautifully by Jordan Staal and Max Talbot who moved the puck to Christensen, who found himself alone in front of the net to the glove side of Ward.  At 6:23, Brett Hedican took a hooking penalty with 7 seconds left on a Penguins tripping penalty to Max Talbot.  The Penguins took advantage of the power play at 7:26 as Ryan Malone swatted the puck out of the air and into Hurricanes’ net.  The video replay showed the puck trickling fully across the goal line before being swiped out by an opposing player, to make the score 2-1 and put the momentum in Pittsburgh’s favor.  Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar were credited with assists.  At 9:42, Evgeni Malkin put the team on his shoulders and put the game a little further out of reach for the Hurricanes as he split the defense and beat Cam Ward with a backhander that caught the far post and went in the net.  Petr Sykora and Brooks Orpik were given assists for the outlet passing to Malkin.  Then at 13:03 on the power play, Petr Sykora added an insurance goal as he picked up a rebound and beat Cam Ward on a backhander.  Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin picked up the assists on the final goal of the game.  The Penguins converted 2-of-2 on the power play in the third, and sucessfully killed off 2 penalties of their own.

The Penguins travel to New Jersey on Monday looking for a win to put 3-points of separation between themselves and the Devils, and to edge the Flyers by a point for the Atlantic Division lead. 


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