RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes lost 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins at PNC Arena on Saturday.
Justin Faulk and Elias Lindholm scored for Carolina while goaltender Anton Khudobin made 30 saves in the losing effort as the two teams faced off against one another for the second time in as many nights.
Chris Kunitz, Robert Bortuzzo, and Christian Ehrhoff scored in succession, and goaltender Thomas Greiss made 32 saves as Pittsburgh exacted revenge on Carolina for a 4-2 loss the night before.
At puck drop, the energy level in the building was high as the noise generated by the 16,225 in attendance provided a boisterous start to the opening period.
It was a partisan crowd that cheered and booed each team as they came out hitting and firing pucks on net at both ends.
Faulk opened the game’s scoring with a blast from the point that sailed over Greiss’ blocker-side shoulder and Carolina took an early 1-0 lead.
Forwards Victor Rask and Nathan Gerbe earned assists on the power play goal.
Pittsburgh quickly answered back as Evgeni Malkin circled behind the Carolina net and found a streaking Kunitz who one-timed a quick backhand pass in the slot past Khudobin.
“Obviously you don’t want to give up a goal after you score one,” Faulk said.
“That’s not the way you want things to go.”
With the score tied 1-1, the Hurricanes got caught on a line change a minute-and-a-half later and allowed Bortuzzo to skate in untouched on a miscommunication between defensemen John-Michael Liles and Jay Harrison.
With only Khudobin to beat, Bertuzzo wired a low shot below the keeper’s blocker and gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead at the 5:32 mark.
Pittsburgh never relinquished the lead for the rest of the period, or the game.
Playing in his 100th game with the Hurricanes, Gerbe created some major fireworks as he sent Simon Despres into the boards while skating towards the puck in the Pittsburgh zone.
As Despres lay on the ice, Penguins forward Jayson Megna came to the defense of his teammate and got tangled up with Gerbe.
As the two grappled, the five-foot-five inch Gerbe grabbed the six-foot-one-inch Megna’s jersey and turned him like a rodeo roper would a calf before roping him up, and they both fell to the ice quickly before the linesmen separated them.
Each went off with roughing minors, but Carolina gained another power play opportunity for Megna’s initial charge on Gerbe.
The Hurricanes were unable to capitalize with the man-advantage.
Both teams skated to a scoreless second period that was highlighted by many sequences that kept both goalies busy, including three more power play opportunities for Carolina.
Pittsburgh didn’t let up during the third period and came out firing and kept Khudobin busy.
Ehrhoff eventually scored Pittsburgh’s third straight goal on a solo effort after picking up a cross-ice pass from Maatta as both teams were making line changes.
He carried the puck into the Carolina zone, first beating Andrej Sekera at the blue line, and then getting a step on Faulk before snapping a shot on Khudobin.
The Russian netminder made a pad save on the shot, but the German winger got the rebound and tucked it into the net for the Pens’ game-winning goal.
The Hurricanes pulled Khudobin with 1:29 to play and fired three shots at Greiss.
With 12 seconds remaining, a wrist shot from Rask at the point was tipped by Lindholm and beat the keeper to pull Carolina within one.
It was Hurricanes’ second power play goal of the night.
However, the effort came up as too little, too late, as an opportunity to earn four successive points from one of the NHL Eastern Conference’s top teams fell short.
“I didn’t think we played as well as the game went along,” Peters said.
“I thought the energy was obviously was a part of it, but also the execution – we didn’t get pucks in behind their D and they were able to transition, kind of half-ice us a little bit, and caught us. The game-winner ended up being on a half-ice play too when all three forwards are changing.”
“We need to score,” Peters added.
“We didn’t score 5-on-5 tonight. We scored a 5-on-4 goal and a 6-on-4 goal. Five-on-five, I didn’t think we were really dangerous tonight.”