Hurricanes outpace Penguins in 3-2 OT thriller

Staal scores twice, Svechnikov buries winner

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

Peter Koutroumpis (pksport)

RALEIGH, NC – Andrei Svechnikov ended a hard-fought battle between the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins at PNC Arena on Friday.

The 3–2 overtime decision in Carolina’s favor came about as the result of a power play following Kris Letang’s slashing penalty at 2:47 in overtime.

Goals from Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby put the Penguins up 2-0 in the first period.

Canes captain Jordan Staal netted both goals in regulation, in the second and third periods, before Svechnikov’s 23rd goal of the season earned the second point over the Penguins.

“They’re a good team – I thought they played with a lot of urgency tonight,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan noted.

“They lost a couple in a row. We knew what we were up against. When you play a team like Carolina, territory is important. If you’re going to spend time in your end defending, if you can keep pucks in their zone and make them expend energy defending, that takes them out of their game a little bit. I just didn’t think we did that consistently enough in the second and the third.”

Smother brothers

Crosby and Guentzel led the Penguins into the Carolina zone early and often from the opening puck drop.

Even while closing gaps with its smothering play, Canes netminder Annti Raanta stayed sharp after the Pens posted a 2-0 lead 14 minutes in.

He eventually earned the 22-save win, while Pens goalie Casey DeSmith faced 42 shots, frustrating Carolina’s shooters many times.

For Staal, posting his fourth and fifth goals in the past seven games, a recipient of the hard work put in by his linemates, Jesper Fast and Nino Niederreiter, hounding pucks and creating havoc.

“They may not be the prettiest ones (plays), but it’s tough to defend,” Staal said.

“Creating quick turnovers and bringing it to the net, good things happen.”

Catching up

Staal pointed out how Pittsburgh established the pace and tempo of the game, challenging him and his teammates.

“They jumped on us early; they did a great job and made it hard on us. Going down two to them, we had to get going.”

An increasingly engaged effort during the second and third periods eventually produced the desired result.

We got what we deserved

Canes head coach Rod Brind’Amour thought his team played a good first period, despite what looked to many as the other way around.

“I thought we were good in the first period,” he said.

“We just gave them the first one. They made good plays, you gotta give them credit. For three or four shifts, we didn’t make smart plays, but the rest of the time we were good.”

Fire it up!

Svechnikov and his teammates kept the pressure on DeSmith and the Pens in overtime.

It was a an emotionally charged game between the Metro Division’s top two teams.

The building, fully of strong contingents from both teams erupted when Canes forward Vincent Trocheck and Pens defenseman Mark Friedman got into it early in the third period.

Trocheck tried to hold off Friedman as the two engaged.

Punches were thrown by both, jerseys pulled over each other’s heads and both eventually dropped hard onto the ice with Trocheck on top.

With both skaters heading to the penalty box, Trocheck waved both arms upwards for the crowd to get louder.

The energy created from the melee impacted the players, including Svechnikov.

“That was fun to see, for sure,” he said.

“Oh yeah, it fired me up for sure, big time.”

Fortunately for Carolina, Letang couldn’t resist responding to Trocheck’s pesky ways in overtime and resulted in the man advantage that Svechnikov soon channeled his energy towards in cleaning up a rebound in the slot, flipping the puck over DeSmith’s shoulder with the winning goal.

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