RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes lost ground while chasing the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL’s Eastern Conference wildcard race on Friday.
Following a game-tying goal from Andej Nestrasil in the third period, the Hurricanes were unable to secure the second point in overtime, nor in the shootout, and fell 2-1 to the Pens in front of 15,783 in attendance at PNC Arena.
After making 25 saves through regulation and overtime, Carolina netminder Cam Ward couldn’t deny Chris Letang the backhand shot that gave Pittsburgh the win behind an equally impressive 29-save effort from Marc-Andre Fleury.
The loss left the Hurricanes trailing in the standings by five points, and with Pittsburgh still holding a game-in-hand.
While both teams were scoreless through the opening 20 minutes, Carolina outshot Pittsburgh 13-8.
“I thought we started on time – had some good looks in the first, probably our most dangerous period offensively,” Carolina head coach Bill Peters said.
Phil Kessel gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead late in the second period at the 15:43 mark.
As both goaltenders made numerous impressive saves throughout the game, goals were hard to come by.
Nestrasil’s snipe with 5:18 remaining in the third ensured that Carolina would continue to contend for the coveted second point.
A hard-played and scoreless overtime session pushed both teams into the skills competition which eventually ended when Letang’s backhand off the deke ended up in the net.
“There were a lot of looks 3-on-3 both ways,” Hurricanes captain Eric Staal said.
“Just unfortunate we couldn’t get one there in the shootout for Cam to get us the win.”