Fleury, Crosby lead Penguins to 5-0 shutout against Hurricanes
January 17, 2016 7:27 PM
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stops a shot by the Hurricanes' Eric Staal in the second period.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates after scoring on Hurricanes goaltender Eddie Lack in the second period.
Sidney Crosby scores on Hurricanes goaltender Eddie Lack.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan yells to the referees as his team takes on the Hurricanes at Consol Energy Center
By Jenn Menendez / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Penguins got the start they needed Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes and finished with a 5-0 rout at Consol Energy Center.
The club won the special teams game, got two goals from Sidney Crosby and a flawless performance in goal from Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 22 saves.
It was fitting, perhaps, that a complete 60-minute performance — ending in a win — came against the Hurricanes, who had twice beaten the Penguins this season, both in regulation and overtime.
Like the Penguins, the Hurricanes also are searching for a way back into the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.
“I think the players deserve a lot of credit for the way we’re playing right now,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. “They’re playing hard. They’re playing with emotion. And I think this game is about emotion. It’s about passion, it’s about energy. And it’s about being more determined. When you bring that level of conviction and determination, you’re going to give yourself a chance to win most nights.”
Just five nights earlier, the two teams met in Carolina and a sluggish start nearly cost the Penguins the game. A rally forced overtime, but Carolina prevailed.
“We’ve had a few tough games against them; even though we’ve played good games, we’re always trying to come back in games,” said Fleury. “Finally had the lead and let them chase a little bit.”
Sunday’s start came quickly.
Defenseman Olli Maatta scored at 3:54 of the first for the Penguins, moving swiftly around Jeff Skinner on the right wing before wristing a shot to the top corner of the far post.
Conor Sheary scored at 10:05 of the same period to make it 2-0. Matt Cullen forced a turnover at the blue line and got the puck to Kevin Porter, who fed Sheary. He scored while falling forward at the hash marks.
“I think that was the difference,” said Maatta. “We got a good start, got a two-goal lead and did a good job playing with that.”
The Penguins killed a key 5-on-3 Carolina power play to open the second period.
Ben Lovejoy was assessed a minor for hooking Carolina’s Eric Staal, who had gotten behind the defense to go in alone on Fleury.
Then 1:17 later, newly acquired winger Carl Hagelin was also sent to the box for hooking, leaving the Hurricanes with 43 seconds of a two-man advantage.
By game’s end, Carolina went 0 for 4 on the power play, a notable number considering the Hurricanes had converted on the power play at a clip of 42 percent against the Penguins heading into the game.
The Penguins power play was 0 for 3 until Crosby redirected a feed from Phil Kessel with his skate blade at 19:23.
The goal was reviewed by officials and stood, and was then reviewed a second time when the Hurricanes challenged the play, hoping for an offside call.
They did not not get it, and the Penguins cruised into the third period ahead, 3-0.
“I had one right on my tape that I missed a wide-open net on. So I’ll take them any way they come right now,” said Crosby. “It was a good look from Phil there. Tried to get something on it, but was happy to see it go in.”
Crosby said he was sure he didn’t kick the puck in, but having been on the wrong side of those after-the-fact offside calls, he was glad to see the goal stand.
Crosby scored again at 6:55 of the third with a well-placed shot from the right circle.
The game marked the debut of Hagelin, who hardly missed a beat after arriving late Saturday in a trade from Anaheim for David Perron and Adam Clendening.
“My legs were feeling good. I got a couple of chances. I didn’t bury it. But I did a good job on the [penalty-kill],” said Hagelin. “I’m not going to sit here and talk about myself. It’s a team game. The guys were great to me. It was an easy adjustment.”
The Penguins tweaked their defensive pairings with Kris Letang out of the lineup with an undisclosed upper-body injury.
Trevor Daley was bumped up to the top pairing with Maatta, and to the top power-play unit.
He scored the Penguins’ final goal, a pretty shot off the rush at 13:36 of the third period.
Brian Dumoulin and Lovejoy stayed together and David Warsofsky joined Ian Cole on the third pairing, but left the game after a scary collision.
Warsofsky was skating backward at full speed when referee Tim Peel knocked into him, sending him up into the air and flipping him backward before he landed on his head.
Warsofsky left the game and was still being evaluated, said Sullivan, who expected to have more information by Monday morning.
Jenn Menendez: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @JennMenendez.
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