The Pittsburgh Penguins put an end to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-game winning streak tonight, but it took until the last shot in the first round of the OT shootout to decide the game. Sidney Crosby’s shootout goal proved to be the game winner after Dany Sabourin made the only save of the shootout against Ray Whitney, the last shooter for the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes got on the board first with an early power play goal by Ray Whitney at 0:59 of the first, while Sergei Gonchar sat for a hooking call. Matt Cullen and Rod Briand’Amour assisted on the goal. The Penguins evened the score on a late period even strength goal by Petr Sykora, his 250th career goal, at 18:58. Crosby made a power move from behind the net on the wraparound attempt, while protecting the puck against two defenders. The rebound came out to a streaking Sykora who backhanded it over Cam Ward’s shoulder high on the glove side. Mark Recchi picked up the other assist. At the end of one, the shots were nearly even with Carolina maintaining an 11-10 advantage. The Pens went 0-3 on the power play, while the Hurricanes were 1-3.
In the second period, it looked like the Canes might pull ahead for good as they built a two goal lead. The Canes scored their second at even strength from Trevor Letowski at 3:57 with assists by Justin Williams and Rod Brind’Amour. Their third goal was an unassisted even strength tally by Justin Williams at 15:20, after the Pens failed to score on the power play. Hurricanes winger Scott Walker left the ice with 2:34 to play in the second and was taken to the hospital with what was described as a torso injury. While skating to the bench during a stoppage in play, Walker fell to his knees. A stretcher was brought out and play was delayed for several minutes, but Walker ultimately skated off slowly with the aid of team personnel. After the stoppage in play, the Penguins battled back by picking up a late goal by Adam Hall at 17:54 from Jarkko Ruutu and Maxime Talbot to draw within one. They then drew two Canes penalties less than a minute apart against Commodore and Brind’Amour for holding and hooking to get the 5-on-3 advantage. Petr Sykora took advantage of the opportunity and scored the game-tying goal on the backhand with just 6 seconds left in the period. The goal was an exact replica of his first goal of the night, and was assisted by Sergei Gonchar and Sidney Crosby. The shots were again 11-10 (advantage Carolina) in the second, and the Pens were 1-4 on the power play, while the Canes were 0-2.
The third period was scoreless as both teams put up 7 shots and were 0-1 on the power play. Penguins goaltender Dany Sabourin made some clutch saves, as did the Canes’ Cam Ward. Likewise, the sudden death overtime ended in a tie with 3 shots rendered by the Canes and 2 by the Pens to force the shootout.
In the shootout, it was Christensen, Sykora, and Crosby against Cullen, Hamilton, and Whitney. The first five shooters, including all three Pens players, made some great moves in close to put the puck in the net. This forced a must score situation for the 6th shooter, Ray Whitney, to force another round of the shootout. Fortunately, Dany Sabourin made a great glove save on Whitney and sealed the game for the Penguins bringing them back to 0.500.
The game was an inspirational win against the Southeast Division leader and the NHL’s fourth ranking team in goals-against average. Petr Sykora picked up two goals plus a goal in the shootout and was named the game’s first star. Sidney Crosby, with 2 assists and the winning goal in the shootout, was named the games second star. Penguins backup goaltender Dany Sabourin stopped 29 of 32 shots in regulation and had the only save in the shootout to give the Penguins the win, his first as a Penguin. Evgeni Malkin’s point streak ended at 5 games, with no points scored in tonight’s game despite an impressive on-ice presence. The Penguins defense looked much better tonight, but still had momentary lapses. Dany Sabourin represented himself and the team well as the backup tender making some key saves to keep the Penguins in the game, and gave them the chance to pick up 2 points. Really good, entertaining game tonight!
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Fortunately, my prediction on the game’s outcome was wrong again tonight. I did pick Sykora to score a goal, and he netted two. I also picked Jordan Staal to get on the board, but we will have to wait at least another game before the Gronk puts one in the net. Perhaps tomorrow!
The Penguins hit the road for Washington, DC, where they match up against the Capitals on Saturday night at 7PM. I will be there with my 10-year old son and will have camera in hand. We are seated in Section 116, Row O, seats 9 and 10 (behind the net the Penguins shoot at twice). If you are at the game and in the vicinity, please stop by and say hello! I am expecting a large Pittsburgh fan base turnout, and would love to meet some fellow fans. I will try and get the Caps game preview up in the morning. Go Pens Go!