The first relevant battle of the Staal brothers this season for Pens fans resulted in yet another victory for Jordan to bring to the dinner table next week when the family re-unites in North Carolina for the All-Star Game. (Come on, did you seriously think I’d dodge the “Staals are Brothers” reference following tonight’s game? And yes, while Jordan will not be participating you can bet he'll in Raleigh cheering on - and possibly antagonizing - his older brothers.) The Penguins held on to a one goal lead late in the third period and emerged victorious as they rallied over Carolina 3-2.
After a scoreless first period, it appeared that the Hurricanes would be the first to go on the board when right-winger Erik Cole blasted a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury. However, the shot was deflected by the crossbar, prompting Flower to pat the bar down in appreciation. Less than a minute later, Dustin Jefferey opened the scoring with a rocket of a shot, banking his second of the season with 2:58 remaining in the period. The goal came as the result of a four-on-four situation; the result of an interference call on the Canes Jamie McBain and a goaltender-interference call on Chris Conner.
The third period would see an increase in scoring action from both teams. The second goal of the night came from Mark Lestestu who picked up a pass from Chris Kunitz and banked it over a diving Cam Ward. (17:38) (It was a nice change of pace to see the boys make something of the power play – that is, to see it used as something more than passing practice.) Five minutes later (12:32), Pascal Dupuis would score a short-handed goal, bringing the game to 3-0 in favour of the Penguins.
The Hurricanes, however, were not quite done. With 4:25 remaining in regulation, Carolina’s Sergei Samsanov put the Canes on the board ending yet another shutout bid for Fleury. (Don’t worry Marc, you’re bound to get another one sooner or later.) Eric Staal would score the second goal for Carolina with 0:57 left on the clock as the Canes held a six-on-five advantage having pulled Ward in favour of the extra-attacker. Despite some intense seconds as the clock wound down and a lot of traffic in front of Fleury, the Pens managed to hold on to the lead.
For only the second time since 2006-07, the Pens were without superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and while they are no doubt missed by fans and teammates alike, their absence has provided a wonderful opportunity for Jordan Staal to show his quality as a leader and an asset to the team. As some of my fellow PensNation writers and I have discussed (I’m looking at you, Meg) you’d never know Staal’s return was but three short weeks ago. It would appear as though we can expect nothing but good things from Jordan during the second half of the season.
The Penguins outshot the Hurricanes 31 to 26 with five of the Canes shots registered in the last five minutes of the game (which undoubtedly resulted in some anxiety given the previous two occasions whereby they’ve given up two-goal leads late in the period resulting in last-minute losses.) The victory brings Marc-Andre Fleury to 21-5-2 in his last 28 and denied the Hurricanes of their 1000th franchise victory. (Sorry Eric but we were rooting for Jordan.) In addition, tonight’s win was number 95 for our very own HCDB. The win ties Bylsma with Scotty Bowman for third in all-time wins for Penguins coaches. Congrats Disco!
The Penguins have improved to 11-2 against teams from the South East Division.
The Penguins will face the New York Islanders Tuesday night in Pittsburgh before breaking for next weekend’s All-Star Game.
1. Marc-Andre Fleury
2. Jordan Staal
3. Eric Staal