Fri, 03 Feb 2023

Penguins host Hurricanes after reversal of fortunes

Field Level Media
29 Nov 2022, 05:40 GMT+10

The Pittsburgh Penguins and visiting Carolina Hurricanes enter their game Tuesday having ended very different streaks in their previous outings.

Carolina arrested a five-game losing streak Saturday with a 3-2 home win over the Calgary Flames, while the Penguins' five-game winning streak ended with a 4-1 loss to the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Hurricanes went 0-1-4 during their skid, managing to pull out four points, so a regulation win provided some relief after they felt like they were playing well enough to win before the breakthrough.

"Things haven't been easy, but we've been sticking with it, and I thought we got what we deserved (Saturday)," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said.

The Hurricanes' power play has come back to life. After they went six games without a power-play goal, they got two Friday in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins and then Saturday, Carolina followed up with another two goals with the man-advantage.

"It was huge," said Martin Necas, who scored on one of the power plays Saturday, as did Brett Pesce. "This can help us get going a little bit and get the confidence going. ... We have to keep it up."

The Hurricanes also got goaltender Antti Raanta back Saturday. He got hit in the knee with a puck during a morning skate and because of the swelling dressed as the backup for four games in a row, with Pyotr Kochetkov starting those games.

"The way (Kochetkov) has been playing, you trust him as much as anyone," Raanta said.

It's not clear who will start Tuesday, although Raanta would seem likely.

Pittsburgh likely will go with No. 1 goalie Tristan Jarry against the Hurricanes, but not because backup Casey DeSmith let the Penguins down Saturday against Toronto.

Rather, the Penguins were fuming at themselves after that loss, which included a series of gaffes and sloppy plays.

In particular, Pittsburgh's top line made a bad change at the end of the game's first shift, with four of the five skaters on the ice heading to the bench at once, and the Maple Leafs capitalized by scoring just 40 seconds into regulation.

Team captain Sidney Crosby, one of those who went for that ill-advised change, let out a rare overt sign of frustration when Toronto scored, angrily kicking the inside of the bench wall several times.

Things went downhill from there, with the Maple Leafs afforded several odd-man breaks and other chances.

"For whatever reason, we couldn't pull it together (after the early goal), and that kind of set us back a little bit," Pittsburgh center Jeff Carter said.

"They really took it to us."

It was a departure from the disciplined, structured game the Penguins played during their preceding winning streak.

"We got outplayed," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said tersely.

The lopsided level of play gave Toronto the chance to fire off 41 shots on DeSmith -- "We left him out to dry a couple times," top-line winger Jake Guentzel said -- and the frustrated Penguins dished out 57 hits that did not appear to appreciably slow the Maple Leafs.

"We've got to do a better job pushing back (and) we need to defend harder," Sullivan said.

--Field Level Media

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