|PIT||0||0||1||(0 - 0)||1|
|CAR||2||2||0||(0 - 0)||4|
People around the NHL can talk all they want about the young talent on the Pittsburgh Penguins. On this night, the Carolina Hurricanes 20-something crew refused to take a back seat.
Eric Staal upstaged little brother Jordan by scoring two goals, Andrew Ladd added another one and Cam Ward stymied one of the most explosive offensives in hockey as the Hurricanes dominated the Penguins 4-1 Friday night.
All three Carolina players were first-round draft picks within the last five years and upstaged hockey’s glamour boy – Sidney Crosby – who couldn’t shake center Rod Brind’Amour, defenseman Glen Wesley and others in a frustrating opener for the Pens.
“We like to think we’ve got some good young players on our team as well,” said Staal, who is off to a hot start with three goals in two games. “It was fun to get out there and play well against a good team. You always want to be recognized as a top player in a league. We’ll continue to do our thing in order for us to win games.”
“There is no doubt we feel confident with the guys we have in this locker room,” Ward added when asked about Carolina’s young stars. “It doesn’t really matter where you’re drafted. It’s a matter of having a consistent team throughout your entire lineup. It’s not about one line or a first-rounder, it’s about everybody.”
After allowing 40 shots in the 3-2 overtime loss to Montreal to open the season Wednesday night, coach Peter Laviolette demanded a tighter defensive game from his club and he got it in the first period – along with two Staal goals for a 2-0 lead against one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference.
Carolina didn’t let up there, peppering the Pens with 16 second-period shots as Ladd and Jeff Hamilton scored 3:24 apart late in the period to take a four-goal lead into the third.
The 'Canes were dominating 5-on-5 and stayed out of the penalty box for the most part, taking just three minors through the first periods to build the lead. Ward lost his shutout when the Pens scored with 3:23 left at the end of a 5-on-3 power play.
Ward said he wasn’t necessarily disappointed he lost his shutout bid late.
“My focus this year is just the win column and helping to contribute to this team,” said Ward, who stopped 33 shots. “I’m just happy for the guys that they played extremely well. I felt it was a well-deserved win.”’
Ward’s biggest save of the first period came shorthanded when Staal’s younger brother Jordan broke free down the right boards and snapped a shot up high on a 2-on-1. Ward snared it out of the air with his glove to keep his club on top by two.
Ward then brought the crowd to its feet late in the second when he stoned Evgeni Malkin on a breakaway to keep the Pens off the board.
Eric Staal actually started the play that led to his first goal 7:08 into the game with a beautiful outlet pass. The center followed the play down the right side and was on the spot when the rebound jumped the stick of a Pittsburgh player and fell to Staal, who snapped the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury.
Staal’s second of the game came six minutes later when he kept the puck in the zone by batting it out of the air, took a pass from Cole and then sent a sharp backhand toward the Pittsburgh net. The shot ricocheted off the skate of Penguins’ defenseman Brooks Orpik, who was occupied by Hamilton in the crease.
“It’s just good to get off to a good start, to get that confidence,” said Staal, whose goal production dipped from 45 to 30 last season. “After scoring three in the first two games I know I can score, so it’s a matter of keeping it going the rest of the way.”
Hamilton assisted on both Staal goals for his first two points in a Carolina uniform, and then added a power-play goal less than four minutes after Ladd gave the 'Canes a 3-0 lead.
Hamilton, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason after spending a season in Chicago, has impressed Laviolette enough to play a major role on the power play and move up to the Staal-Cole line with Cory Stillman still out.
“He’s a big part of this hockey club,” Ward said of Hamilton. “When I’ve played against him in practice he’s got one of the tougher shots I’ve seen. Any time he can get into a shot lane and fire that puck we’ve got a good chance of at least getting a rebound, if not a goal.”
“I don’t know if Jeff has been given a lot of opportunities at this level to play with those types of players,” added Laviolette. “We see a tremendous amount of offensive upside and he’s got great hands.”
Bret Hedican missed the second game of the season because of the flu.
|Eric Staal Wrist shot - ASST: Tim Gleason , Jeff Hamilton|
1 - 0 CAR
|Eric Staal Deflected shot - ASST: Erik Cole , Jeff Hamilton|
2 - 0 CAR
|Andrew Ladd Wrist shot - ASST: Justin Williams , Dennis Seidenberg|
3 - 0 CAR
|PPG - Jeff Hamilton Slapshot - ASST: Rod Brind'Amour , Ray Whitney|
4 - 0 CAR
|PPG - Mark Recchi Tip-in - ASST: Evgeni Malkin , Sergei Gonchar|
4 - 1 CAR
|Jarkko Ruutu Cross checking against Craig Adams|
|Chad LaRose Hi-sticking against Jarkko Ruutu|
|Jarkko Ruutu Hooking against Ray Whitney|
|Ryan Malone Hooking against Dennis Seidenberg|
|Erik Cole Hi-sticking against Sergei Gonchar|
|Sidney Crosby Tripping against Rod Brind'Amour|
|Sergei Gonchar Cross checking against Erik Cole|
|Eric Staal Hooking against Sidney Crosby|
|Scott Walker Slashing against Sidney Crosby|
|Justin Williams Holding against Georges Laraque|
|Trevor Letowski Hi-sticking against Darryl Sydor|
|SA: 26||TOI: 39:51|
|Saves: 22||EV: 15 - 18|
|PIM: 0||PP: 6 - 7|
|SV%: .846||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 7||TOI: 20:00|
|Saves: 7||EV: 5 - 5|
|PIM: 0||PP: 0 - 0|
|SV%: 1.000||SH: 2 - 2|
|SA: 34||TOI: 59:59|
|Saves: 33||EV: 25 - 25|
|PIM: 0||PP: 7 - 8|
|SV%: .971||SH: 1 - 1|