|PIT||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||5|
|CAR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
The first game of Paul Maurice’s second stint with the Carolina Hurricanes was a carbon copy of Peter Laviolette’s exit – another lopsided home loss.
With a series of mental mistakes on defense and little scoring touch around the net, the Canes lost their fourth straight home game, falling 5-2 to the defending Eastern Conference champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.
Carolina has now been outscored 17-6 in those four losses at the RBC Center with Philadelphia and Washington coming to town this weekend.
It wasn’t a good night for Carolina goalie Michael Leighton either, who was in the lineup because of a groin injury to Cam Ward, allowing five goals on Pittsburgh’s first 14 shots as the Canes sputtered yet again at home.
“We’ve got to get out of this hole,” said Tuomo Ruutu, who scored Carolina’s first goal after already trailing 3-0 in the second. “We’ve got to stick together and I know we’ll be fine, but we’ve got to do it together.”
“We had some good moments, but we had some really poor moments,” added Matt Cullen. “Those are the ones that cost us. We’ve got to win games and this goes in the loss column. There are areas we need to shore up and they are areas we’ve been talking about all season. We’re going to continue to work.”
The Canes outshot the Pens 36-22, but it was the quality of shots – and lack thereof on the Carolina side -- that led by the team’s eighth home loss in 14 tries at the RBC Center.
Carolina did close to 4-2 late in the second, breaking an 0-for-28 slump on the power play when Cullen’s 40-footer deflected off the stick of Jordan Staal and past Dany Sabourin.
But another turnover in the Carolina zone 2 1-2 minutes after the Cullen goal led to a shot by Evgeni Malkin that slipped under the shoulder of Leighton and was banged home by Ruslan Fedotenko.
“We clearly have some work to do,” Maurice said less than 48 hours after being hired for a second coaching stint here. “We need to see some consistency in terms of what you see on the ice. When the puck comes back to our end there should be a consistency of positioning.
“At the same time there is good will, good fight on this team. The guys on the bench understand and they are calling it out, and there is some head shaking going on when the mistake is made. They see it.”
Justin Williams, who played on the first unit of the power play and on a fourth line for the first two periods with Brandon Sutter and Patrick Dwyer before getting his minutes bumped up in the third, returned to the lineup after missing 25 games with a torn right Achilles tendon suffered in the preseason.
Williams played a little more than 13 minutes and recorded two shots on goal.
“I felt a little giddy to start, very excited to be back in the room and getting out there and trying to help the team win,” Williams said. “I tried to go out there and initiate as much as I could and not wait for anything to come to me. I’m sitting here healthy at the end of the game and that was the first goal.”
“The hands and intelligence are there,” Maurice added of Williams. “He’s going to play a lot of hockey. We’ll be careful and may still consider splitting the weekend games with him.”
Carolina came out jumping and the crowd was juiced when Williams hit the ice two minutes into the game, but the Canes fell behind again for the 11th straight game, taking consecutive penalties midway through the first. The Pens connected on the second minor as Petr Sykora beat Leighton from the slot, then 1:37 later a turnover by Josef Melichar led to a goal by Pascal Dupuis for a 2-0 Pittsburgh lead.
“We made some -- I guess glaring would be the word -- mistakes that you may not see that exact mistake made again,” said Maurice. “It’s a function of not only individual confidence but team confidence. If you do simple things, and you do them hard and do them very well you’ll have success. We did some high risk things that went in the opposite direction for us and didn’t give our goaltender a whole lot of help.”
NOTES: Dennis Seidenberg (leg injury) was placed on injured reserve with the activation of Williams. …. Ruutu’s team-leading ninth goal moved him within one of his total in 77 games last season. … Frank Kaberle missed the third period with a lower body injury and is listed as day-to-day. … It was the 12th time in the last 15 games the Canes have scored two or fewer goals. … Sidney Crosby’s four assists gave him 14 points in his last five games. … Pittsburgh blocked 24 shots.
|PPG - Petr Sykora (6) ASST: Sidney Crosby (23), Alex Goligoski (7)|
1 - 0 PIT
|Pascal Dupuis (3) ASST: Sidney Crosby (24)|
2 - 0 PIT
|PPG - Petr Sykora (7) ASST: Sidney Crosby (25), Evgeni Malkin (30)|
3 - 0 PIT
|Tuomo Ruutu (9) ASST: Sergei Samsonov (7), Josef Melichar (4)|
3 - 1 PIT
|Miroslav Satan (10) ASST: Sidney Crosby (26), Kris Letang (11)|
4 - 1 PIT
|PPG - Matt Cullen (7) ASST: Ray Whitney (11), Rod Brind'Amour (8)|
4 - 2 PIT
|Ruslan Fedotenko (5) ASST: Evgeni Malkin (31)|
5 - 2 PIT
|Sidney Crosby Tripping against Patrick Eaves|
|Tuomo Ruutu Boarding against Alex Goligoski|
|Niclas Wallin Hooking against Evgeni Malkin|
|Tuomo Ruutu Hi-sticking against Pascal Dupuis|
|Mark Eaton Holding against Patrick Eaves|
|Eric Godard Hooking against Brandon Sutter|
|Evgeni Malkin Tripping against Niclas Wallin|
|Maxime Talbot Hi-sticking against Niclas Wallin|
|SA: 36||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 34||EV: 29 - 30|
|PIM: 0||PP: 5 - 6|
|SV%: .944||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 22||TOI: 59:57|
|Saves: 17||EV: 13 - 16|
|PIM: 0||PP: 3 - 5|
|SV%: .773||SH: 1 - 1|