The Wow Factor: Penguins Crush Carolina 7-1 – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

The Wow Factor: Penguins Crush Carolina 7-1

I’ve surely used this lead-in before. But, at the risk of repeating myself, what a difference a week makes.

Why, following last Saturday night’s ugly 6-3 loss to Detroit the Penguins were sagging against the ropes and slipping in the standings. Losers of three in a row on the road—all by lopsided scores—there seemed to be definite cause for alarm.


Now, after a second-straight impeccable road win—this one by a whopping 7-1 margin over Carolina—the sky’s the limit.

“I thought the last two games might be two of our best all year just as far as being more difficult to play against, being pesky around the puck and most importantly in our own end zone,” Pens coach Mike Sullivan said.

For the record, that was no pushover our boys trounced. Under the stewardship of GM Ron Francis and coach Bill Peters, the Hurricanes are a rising young team. As witnessed by their sparkling 15-4-1 record at PNC Arena and four-game home ice winning streak heading into last night’s action. Yet our Pens handled them with ease.

Once again, offense flowed from a solid defensive effort like vintage wine. Following a quick start by the Hurricanes, the Pens limited their speedy hosts to 28 shots on goal, including 15 over the final two periods. They blocked 17 shots to the ‘Canes nine.

Faceoffs? Still a work in progress, as Carolina dominated on draws (57 percent). Which makes the Pens’ seven-goal surge all the more impressive.

There was plenty of offense to go around. Talk about a balanced attack. No fewer than 16 Pens tallied at least a point. Each line factored in the scoring, not to mention the defense.

Pepper pot Conor Sheary led the way with two goals. Trevor Daley, Carl Hagelin, Phil Kessel, Chris Kunitz and club scoring leader Evgeni Malkin each chipped in with one. Sheary, Kessel and Malkin—along with Bryan Rust and Justin Schultz—enjoyed two-point games.

The kind of depth that causes matchup nightmares for opposing coaches and makes the Pens a very difficult foe.

“I get to watch this group from the back end each night,” said Pens goalie Matt Murray, who stopped 27 shots in another solid performance. “We know we have a good group in here and we have a good team. When we play the way we can, we can take over a game like we did today.”

Playing the right way, as Sullivan is fond of saying.

A phrase I never tire of hearing.

Ice Chips

The Penguins lead the NHL with 164 goals. Cameron Gaunce picked up his second assist in as many games on Hagelin’s second-period goal. Rookie Jake Guentzel also earned an assist, giving him seven points (4+3) in eight games with the black and gold.

Eric Fehr played another strong game while filling in for the injured Matt Cullen. The big center registered an assist, two hits and a blocked shot, and tied Sidney Crosby and Malkin with a team-best three takeaways in 12-plus minutes. He won eight of 17 faceoffs.

With three hits and two blocked shots in 20:39 of ice time, Chad Ruhwedel (plus-1) continued to impress. Olli Maatta paced the team with five blocked shots, giving him 83 on the season. Ian Cole leads the club with 102 blocked shots—tied for seventh in the league.

Scott Wilson left the game early in the third period following a collision with Carolina’s Matt Tennyson. His status is unknown.

Injured defensemen Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang have returned to practice. Dumoulin’s missed the past nine games with a broken jaw. Letang’s sat out the last three with a left-knee injury. No word on when they’re expected to play.

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  1. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    January 22, 2017 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Another great blowout on the scoreboard win but boy are the Pens Goalies still under serious assault; 45 shots, 27 Blks, and 15 MsS for 87 shot attempts for Boston.

    Give Murray tons of credit on this one.

  2. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    January 22, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    The Carolina was a real blowout on the scoreboard but as you noted it was not really a pushover game. It was just a question of the boys in black and gold earning every inch of what they got. Particularly Hornqvist as well as the 4th line were out there pacing the way with hard, hard work. I am sure Ward understood what value Hornqvist had to that game.

    However, despite some very hard work on many facets of the game I was a little concerned with the Hurricane shot attempts. Carolina had their share of opportunities. Add 17 blocked shots and 13 missed nets to those shots on goal and Carolina was pushing 60 shots attempted. Fortunately, until the PP breakdown that led to the SH attempt Murray was equal to the task, especially when the game was on the line.

    I too wanted to see the Pens make Ward pay for his dangerous outburst on Hornqvist, but that late in a game with a 7 – 1 lead, the whole team should have been on best defensive behavior to help Murray get the SO he deserved for thwarting the bad guys until the Pens found their legs.

    Gaunce is looking real good and may have just moved up in my eyes to the number 7 D man on the roster in my head, the way I think the roster should look. However, I still wouldn’t stop the search for a D man who has some mobility but has a lot of sand and the appreciation to slam the door shut for his goalie late in the game and not let breakaways happen.

    Part of a killer instinct isn’t just pummeling the other team offensively, but stifling, smothering them completely when the team has the chance to earn a SO for their goalie.

    In the department of “I don’t really know as much as I think”. Rick you remember last year when Sullivan first called Sheary up, I laughed and said that the only value I saw in that move was in putting that stars in their place by giving Sheary any Ice Time. I am soooooo glad I was (wait for it….here it comes) I was wrong. How about that Crosby, Rust, Sheary line. I am not sure of anyone who wouldn’t lose sleep knowing that they were going to have to be the ones trying to stop them.

    Time to really paste those people from bean town today. Let’s go Pens, let’s go Steelers, make this a very bad day in Boston/New England sports!!!!!

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      January 22, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Hey Other Rick,

      Having been wrong a couple of hundred times myself, I can certainly appreciate and relate to your feelings about Sheary … 🙂

      I thought and felt much the same way you did, initially, before I really started to watch him and saw how many puck battles he won.

      He’s really a perfect linemate for Crosby. He’s skilled, thinks and reads the game really well, has a non-stop motor, finds the openings, and is remarkably good in traffic and along the wall. Kind of a pocket version of Zach Parise with more speed.

      Rust compliments them really well, especially with his speed and tenacity. He seems to have a knack for finding the puck … or vice versa.

      When you think about it, it’s almost as if they’ve recreated the Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis dynamic with faster, younger guys.

      Oh, your Fleury-Shattenkirk deal is beginning to look like more of a possibility to me, even though I’m not sure the latter is the type of defenseman we need. Given Jake Allen’s struggles, the Blues are in desperate need of a goalie if they’re going to go anywhere in the postseason.

      It would also seem a fit for Pouliot to go to the Blues as a potential replacement for Shattenkirk. The glaring hole in the arrangement would be the lack of a suitable backup for Murray coming back from St. Louis, unless the trade would somehow evolve into a three-team deal.

      Anyway … enough rambling and surmising. GO PENS!



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