Recap: Pens’ rally in Raleigh falls short in 2-1 loss to Hurricanes

Pregame

The Penguins stick with (or maybe more accurately are stuck with) the same skaters as last night’s game with no returns from injury or illness. Casey DeSmith takes back over in net.

The home team has the following lines:

First period

As to be expected given strength of the lineups, it was an uphill battle for the Penguins from the very beginning. Carolina controlled most of the first period. It looked like Pittsburgh might sneak out of the period without taking any damage, but a nice curl and drag and snipe from Brady Skjei got the Hurricanes on the scoreboard.

Second period

The second period was more of the same, with Carolina mostly in control, working pucks low-to-high and testing DeSmith. They would beat him on one such play, with Sebastien Aho winning a puck from low and working it to defender Jalen Chatfield who snuck up right into the slot to extend the lead to 2-0.

Late in the period, the Penguins squandered a lengthy 5v3 power play that felt like their best opportunity to get back within striking distance.

Carolina was putting on a clinic with their typical ability to suppress almost everything in close for the Penguins to attempt to create offense.

Third period

Down two and on the road, the Penguins went to work. They got another power play and would score a goal when Carolina goalie Frederik Andersen made an ill-advised clear right to Rickard Rakell. Rakell pounced on the mistake and swiftly put the puck in the net by knocking it out of mid air. Maybe some luck, but shows just how dangerous NHL players can be.

But try as they may, the Penguins couldn’t find an equalizer and ran out of time.

Some thoughts

  • Another tight game against Carolina, and another one goal loss for Pittsburgh. They haven’t measured up to the best team in the Metropolitan division this season.
  • After losing Chatfield in coverage on the second goal of the game in the second period, Danton Heinen didn’t see the ice again for the rest of the game. For a player on such a goal-less drought, it’s tough to see where he fits or what he’s doing these days.
  • Great game for DeSmith, stopping 34 of 36 shots and was only beat on excellent shots in stretches of play where Carolina was throwing so much rubber on net that something was bound to go in. DeSmith held the Pens as close as possible and gave them a chance down the line to get back in the game. After probably the worst start of the season earlier in the week against Vancouver, it was a great bounce back performance for DeSmith.
  • Unlike last night’s loss to Winnipeg, the Penguins were battling and engaged and actually competing tonight. There’s no place in the standings for moral victories, but at least the effort was better tonight.
  • Evgeni Malkin had six shots on goal and 10 total shot attempts. In the third period push he was instrumental and you could feel him trying to will a goal, but it just wasn’t to be on this night.
  • Sullivan was asked about Ty Smith on the power play in his post-game press conference and at times said he thought Smith was playing well but at other times has been struggling. That’s about as close as Sullivan comes to publicly critiquing a player in a negative manner. Smith has a tough job jumping in with the star players and has had some good and bad moments, but surely the team will be happy to get Kris Letang back in that spot.

The Penguins are back in Pittsburgh on Monday, and might have a chance for redemption playing the lowly Anaheim Ducks. For a team that has only scored one goal in each of the last two games, seeing the porous Ducks could be just what the doctor ordered for the Pens.

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