Penguins hold off Hurricanes, 3-2
Penguins forward Dustin Jeffrey celebrates a second period goal with teammates Brooks Orpik and Jordan Staal as Hurricanes defenseman Joe Corvo looks down during Saturday's game at Consol Energy Center.
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Dustin Jeffrey understands how these things work.
That roster limits and salary caps and other factors far beyond his control all but guarantee his stay in the NHL won't last much longer.
But Jeffrey also knows that every shift he gets in the NHL is a chance to sell himself to management, to convince his bosses that he is worthy of a significant place in the franchise's future.
Which means he had a pretty productive evening during the Penguins' 3-2 victory against Carolina Saturday night at Consol Energy Center.
Jeffrey, who is on his fourth stint with the Penguins this season, scored their first goal and logged 11 minutes, 55 seconds of ice time, most of it between Craig Adams and Arron Asham.
"If they keep calling me up like they have been for these games, I have to try to make the most of it," Jeffrey said.
Teammate Mark Letestu, who is about a season ahead of Jeffrey on the developmental curve, clearly felt Jeffrey added a little sweat equity to his NHL resume against the Hurricanes.
"The approach I took last season is to try to leave an impression, every time you're here," Letestu said. "Try to leave something in the coach's mind that you're an NHL player and you're doing things an NHL way. I think he did that tonight. Tonight, he was great."
Well, very good, at least.
Jeffrey is on the major league roster at the moment because forwards Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Evgeni Malkin (knee/sinus infection) aren't available.
Crosby, who has missed eight consecutive games because of a concussion, also will sit out one against the New York Islanders Tuesday and the NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh next Sunday. An announcement that Crosby will miss his third All-Star Game could come within the next day or so.
After the first half of the game produced no goals the Hurricanes appeared to break through at 16:02 of the second period, when Erik Cole's shot from the right dot struck the shaft of Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's stick en route to the net.
The on-ice ruling was that the puck then sneaked inside the left post, but a video review determined that it actually had caromed off the crossbar and never crossed the goal line.
"It was a good bounce," Fleury said. "I said 'thank you' to the [crossbar]."
The Penguins made the most of that reprieve when Jeffrey got his second of the season 72 seconds later by beating Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward with a wrist shot from above the right circle.
"I saw [Jordan Staal] in front of the net and was just hoping to get it through there and give him an opportunity to whack it in," Jeffrey said.
His goal was the Penguins' first in a span of 108 minutes, 33 seconds.
The Hurricanes were pressing for the tying goal early in the third period -- the line of Cole, Eric Staal and Chad LaRose had the Penguins pinned in their own end for an extended period -- when Cole took a needless, and costly, penalty by dumping Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy in front of the net at 2:03.
Just 19 seconds later, Letestu got a feed from Chris Kunitz and beat Ward from between the hash marks -- "I just kind of caught Ward over-committing," Letestu said -- for his 10th of the season.
Carolina had an opportunity to get back into the game when Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik was penalized for roughing LaRose at 6:43.
Instead, the Penguins got what proved to be the winner while Orpik was off, as Staal sprung Pascal Dupuis between the Hurricanes defense and Dupuis flipped a backhander over Ward's glove at 7:28 for his 10th.
Fleury seemed to be closing in on his second shutout of the season at that point, but lost it when Sergei Samsonov beat him from above the left hash at 15:35.
And even though the Hurricanes were 0 for 5 on the power play, they did capitalize on a man-advantage of sorts to make it 3-2 with 57.8 seconds left in regulation.
Ward had been replaced by any extra attacker when Eric Staal, positioned to the right of the crease, rapped in a Joe Corvo rebound, but Carolina couldn't generate the goal that would have forced overtime.
Not that the Penguins were overly concerned that the game might stretch past 60 minutes.
"We had that the whole way," Letestu said. "The whole bench knew we were getting that one."
First Published January 23, 2011 12:00 am