When they break down the tape of this game, the Penguins' coaches are sure to see some things they like.
Their team's resilience and passion, for starters. Its execution, too. Much of the time, anyway.
But what they will enjoy most is simply that their players found a way to defeat Carolina, 4-3, in a shootout at Mellon Arena.
The Penguins (3-3) got a solid performance from backup goalie Dany Sabourin, who finished with 29 saves in regulation and overtime. He allowed a couple of goals on shots he probably would like another chance at, but also came through with some quality stops.
"He made some key saves, especially on the penalty-killing in the third period," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "He gave us a chance to stay in the game."
Sabourin's biggest save came during the shootout, when he denied the Hurricanes' third shooter, Ray Whitney, after Sidney Crosby had scored to give the Penguins a 3-2 advantage.
"He made some good moves," Sabourin said. "I made sure I was patient, and I'm really happy I made that save."
Sabourin's game-ending glove save came after Erik Christensen and Petr Sykora of the Penguins had converted their shootout attempts against Carolina goalie Cam Ward, as had Matt Cullen and Jeff Hamilton of the Hurricanes against Sabourin.
"[Ward] is a great goalie, and for sure you don't expect to get three [against him during the shootout]," Crosby said. "My first year, I think it was me, Mario [Lemieux] and Ziggy [Palffy] who faced Ward in a shootout in his first game, and he stopped all three of us."
Therrien, who regularly has tinkered with his forward combinations this season, broke out a couple of new defense pairings last night, putting Ryan Whitney with Rob Scuderi and Darryl Sydor with Brooks Orpik. The Mark Eaton-Sergei Gonchar tandem remained intact.
Sabourin's evening got an ominous start when the guy he stopped to end the shootout, Ray Whitney, beat him from above the left circle 59 seconds into the game on the Hurricanes' first shot. Gonchar was serving a hooking minor when Whitney got his goal.
Sabourin was not rattled, though, and turned aside the final 10 shots Carolina threw at him before the first intermission. His best stop came with 51/2 minutes to go, when he denied Erik Cole on a breakaway.
Ward came through with several quality stops -- like on shots from the slot by Sykora and Jordan Staal, and a shorthanded breakaway by Ryan Malone -- to preserve the Hurricanes' advantage until late in the period.
- Matchup: Penguins at Washington Capitals, 7:08 p.m. today, Verizon Center, Washington.
- TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9).
- Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Olaf Kolzig for Capitals.
- Penguins: Swept four-game series from Washington last season with 14-9 scoring advantage. ... Have road penalty-killing success rate of 90.9 percent. .... Mark Recchi has 101 points in 85 career games vs. Capitals.
- Capitals: Have lost three games in a row after starting 3-0. ... Are 4 for 31 on power play and went 0 for 6 Thursday in 5-2 loss to Islanders. ... LW Alex Ovechkin has a point in each of team's six games.
- Hidden stat: The five goals vs. the Islanders were more than Kolzig had allowed in his first three games combined.
The Penguins finally broke through at 18:58, when Sykora backhanded a Crosby rebound over Ward's glove for his third of the season.
They failed to capitalize on two subsequent power plays, however, and Trevor Letowski put Carolina back in front at 3:57 of the second, flipping in a shot to cap a flurry in which Sabourin lost his feet and was unable to get back up.
The Penguins had a chance to pull even when Gary Roberts, Evgeni Malkin and Adam Hall got a three-on-one break nine minutes into the period, but they failed to get a shot on Ward.
That squandered opportunity became more significant at 15:20, as Justin Williams threw a wrist shot past Sabourin from well above the left hash to put Carolina up, 3-1.
Deflating as that could have been, the Penguins rallied to tie before the period ended.
"I think we all realized that we just had to move our feet, and, hopefully, connect on our power play if the opportunities came," Crosby said.
Hall made it 3-2 when he threw in a Jarkko Ruutu rebound at 17:54 for his first of the season, and Sykora lifted a Gonchar rebound over Ward's left shoulder during a five-on-three power play 5.1 seconds before the period expired for what proved to be the final goal of regulation.
"We bounced back," Therrien said.
Far enough, in fact, that the Penguins will have a chance to go above .500 for the first time this season when they visit Washington at 7:08 p.m. today.
"That'd be nice," Crosby said. "We just want to build on this."
Dave Molinari can be reached at DWMolinari@Yahoo.com .