Tracking the Storm: Analysis
In the week ahead, we’ll see if this win has any lasting effects on the team. But tonight, the Canes came out with exactly the game they needed – a hard-fought, gritty effort. The game was chippy early on, and Pittsburgh stormed back to tie the game in the third. But unlike the past few games, the Canes had that all-important bounce back. “As a group, we showed a lot of character. We fought hard and got it back,” Eric Staal said. Speaking of Staal, the Canes’ captain found the back of the net at even strength for the first time this season. That goal turned out to be the game-winner. He also assisted on Chad LaRose’s goal that sealed the deal for the Canes late. All of this happened with him on the wing, a new look that Paul Maurice put together before the game. “I felt OK on the wing,” Staal said. “It was a little bit of an adjustment. Watching Skinner do it in the first and second, I kind of figured it out in the third.” Cam Ward made faced 40 shots from the Penguins tonight, 17 of which came in the final frame. Perfect for just over two periods, he made 37 saves in the game. Even after Pittsburgh tied the game in the third period, Ward stood tall and made some key saves late, especially the one on Evgeni Malkin, who broke in uncontested with the game tied 3-3. Had he scored there, the end result might have been different. The “Finns and Skins” line was productive tonight, as they combined for 7 points. Jeff Skinner had 3 points (1g, 2a), while Tuomo Ruutu (2g) and Jussi Jokinen (2a) had 2 points each. That line seems to have some great chemistry. “I think we’re all a little different, and we complement each other,” Ruutu said. “Skinner can make a play out of nothing. Juice is a smart player and good defensively. I think he’s one of the best passers in the whole league.” With a win against one of the elite in the NHL under their belt, the Canes will look to continue that when the Philadelphia Flyers come to town on Monday. “It was a gutsy win, and we want to make sure we carry this forward,” Staal said.
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Recap (Associated Press)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Eric Staal kept his focus after his apparent breakaway goal was waived off early in the third period.
The result was a big victory for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Staal scored for the first time in a month and the Hurricanes beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 on Saturday night.
Staal converted a rebound at 15:26 in the third, smacking it past Brent Johnson to give the Hurricanes a 4-3 lead after they wasted a three-goal advantage. It was Staal's fourth goal of the season and first since Oct. 18.
He appeared to snap his drought earlier in the period, but the official had a quick whistle and blew the play dead before the puck crossed the goal line.
"You can feel sorry for yourself or you can go out next shift and do your best," Staal said. "I felt like I did that, and I was I rewarded, which was nice."
Chad LaRose added a breakaway score with 2:30 left.
Jordan Staal, Eric's brother, scored two goals and Chris Kunitz added another to help the Penguins rally in the third. Johnson made 21 stops while starting in place of Marc-Andre Fleury.
"We had made one or two mistakes that allowed them to get some goals there in the second period, but we still felt like we had the potential to come back," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said.
Ward was particularly sharp in the first two periods, turning aside a flurry of quality opportunities from the Penguins. He stopped Evgeni Malkin on a partial breakaway, Kunitz on a rebound opportunity in front and James Neal on a 2-on-1 with a nice glove save.
"He earned first star tonight," Bylsma said.
Eric Staal admitted afterward he was motivated by the play of his brother, who sparked the Penguins' rally by scoring twice early in the third.
The first came on a one-timer in the slot while the second came on a short-handed breakaway. Staal feathered the puck between Ward's legs and pumped his fist to the delight of the Pittsburgh fans in attendance.
Their roars got louder when Kunitz beat Ward on a wrist shot to tie the score at 3 with 7:42 remaining.
But Eric Staal prevented another difficult loss for Carolina.
"It's great to see Eric cash in with that goal," Ward said. "He's worked extremely hard. It's just a matter of time. He's too good."
NOTES: Pittsburgh's Steve Sullivan left the game with a lower-body injury. . Carolina D Joni Pitkanen missed the game with a lower-body injury. He is considered day to day. . Sidney Crosby (concussion) is expected to return soon for the Penguins. ... Carolina was outscored 18-6 during its losing streak.