Penguins @ Canes - Game Analysis 4/4/09

The Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime by a score of 3-2. Other tight playoff contenders were also in action tonight, so let’s take a look at the updated playoff picture.

The Boston Bruins clinched the 1st seed in the Eastern Conference with a 1-0 win against the New York Rangers this afternoon.

A Philadelphia Flyers shootout loss has kept them in 4th place in the race with 95 points, and a Canes win has jumped them over the Penguins with 95 points and a tie for 4th place. The Pens are now in the 6th spot with 93 points. Both the Pens and Flyers have four games remaining and the Canes have three.

Pregame Notes

The Penguins are 11-1-2 in their last 14 games and 5-0-1 on the road. The Canes are 11-1-2 and 7-0-0 at home. Both teams play the same overall game. Powerful offense, quick speed, and quick puck moving are the main essentials of each team. They also rely on many accurate shots on goal to unnerve the opposing goalies early on.

1st Period Breakdown

It’s another Staal brothers showdown in Raleigh as the Penguins gear up for a huge matchup against the Hurricanes. The starting line of Kunitz-Crosby-Guerin and Gill-Scuderi exploded with a consistent first shift. Chris Kunitz showed aggressive offense and solid puck handling amongst the forwards. Marc-Andre Fleury was looking solid after saving three quick shots by the Canes during the first minute of play.

The 3rd line forwards of Tyler Kennedy, Jordan Staal, and Ruslan Fedotenko are next to show steady consistency for the Penguins. Kennedy is the 1st one on the scoreboard with his 14th goal of the season at 5:49. Fedotenko and Scuderi grabbed the assists.

Both teams were keeping up well and playing the game cleanly. That changed at 8:20 when Matt Cooke was sent to the box for an unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty, and Chad LaRose took a tripping penalty. During the 4 on 4 there was a lot of up and down action. Sidney Crosby had a long breakaway, but Cam Ward shut the door. This was one of many pivotal saves to come and the beginning of a goaltending war.

Just a few minutes later, Eric Staal ties the game at one at 13:25. Linemates Tuomo Ruutu and Erik Cole got the helpers and set up a nice goal in front of the net. Despite Eric’s goal, both Staal brothers were playing strong games.

The first power play of the game was awarded to the Canes when Brooks Orpik was sent to the box on a tripping penalty at 18:02. In their last 15 games, the Canes have scored 13 power play goals, and the Penguins have killed 21 of 24 penalties. The Pens were successful on this PK, with Hal Gill being the defender to beat.

Staal Brothers Battle

At the end of the 1st period, the winning brother is Eric with the Canes goal. Jordan is playing well also, setting up plays for his linemates.

Winning Team

This could go either way. Both teams tallied a goal, and there is a constant defensive battle.

2nd Period Breakdown

Only 57 seconds into the period, Chad LaRose continues to dominate the Canes offense with his 19th goal of the season. Jokinen and Whitney pick up the helpers. About a minute after the goal, Dennis Seidenberg was sent to the box on a tripping call at 2:08. The Penguins kept up a strong offensive push, but Cam Ward stopped everything thrown at him.

The aftermath of the Canes goal was starting to sink in with the Penguins. Defense became sloppy and they were turning it over in their own zone. Bill Guerin thought he tied the game, but the goal was waved off due to a Chris Kunitz tripping penalty 9:53 into the period. Max Talbot really stood out on this penalty kill, clearing the puck out of the zone each time it was sent to the front of the net, and he wouldn’t let anything get near Fleury. The Pens would soon get a power play opportunity at 12:09 on a Chad LaRose hooking call. Sergei Gonchar and Petr Sykora ripped many shots towards the goal, but overall the power play failed.

Staal Brothers Battle

The winner again is Eric Staal for his consistent faceoff wins and pushing the offense on his line.

Winning Team

The Carolina Hurricanes win this one for solid goaltending by Ward and ability to capitalize offensively against Fleury.

3rd Period Breakdown

The 3rd period started the same way the 1st did for the Penguins. The 1st line let the momentum flow as they encouraged the team that they can beat Cam Ward. Soon enough Tyler “Mr. Energy” Kennedy sets up goal number 22 for Jordan Staal at 3:37 and ties the game at two. Staal set a personal record with 43 points on the season. Fedotenko also assisted on the goal and his return to the lineup couldn’t be better.

Defensively, the Pens were looking more stable and aggressive, especially Kris Letang. He provided energy on each shift and set up many scoring opportunities. Pittsburgh had 23 hits and Carolina had 24 by the middle of the period.

Evgeni Malkin was looking to break the tie at 11:43 with a penalty shot. However, Cam Ward continued to shine with a save. He has faced 4 penalty shots this year and saved 2 of the 4 that have come at him.

Both teams were fighting hard, but Bill Guerin was in the wrong place and the wrong time. At 18:12 with less than two minutes to go, he drew a tripping penalty and gave the Canes and open shot at winning the game. The Penguins penalty kill lines played their best shifts of the night, keeping the puck out of the zone the entire two minutes. We are heading to another nail biting overtime!

Overtime Breakdown

After the last seconds of the Canes power play ticked away, the Penguins defense just spiraled downward. They couldn’t clear the puck out of the zone, and sure enough Anton Babchuk came through with the winning goal only 1:11 into the extra period. The only good thing that came out of this minute was that the Pens picked up a point.


Jordan and Eric Staal played great hockey tonight, both tallying goals, and Jordan setting his own point record in a season. Both of them played crucial roles for their respective teams tonight.

My players of the game would be Cam Ward for Carolina and Tyler Kennedy for the Penguins.

Quick Facts

A total of 6 sticks were broken in the first period alone, and 3 of them were Tyler Kennedy’s. Cam Ward is playing his best hockey of the season and made his 26th consecutive start tonight. Jordan Staal has points in 8 of his last 15 games, and made it 9 of 16 tonight.

Three Stars of the Game

3. Eric Staal (CAR)

2. Anton Babchuk (CAR)

1. Cam Ward (CAR)

Next Game

Today the Penguins continue their road trip and travel to Florida to take on the Panthers at 5pm Eastern. Lets Go Penguins!!

by Kaitlin Kennedy


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