‘Twas the night before the NHL’s holiday break, and all through Raleigh, not a Hurricanes fan was found, the arena devoid of sound. The Pens had Murr between the pipes, with dreams of his Stanley Cup might. Jake was nestled with Sid, where scoring goals is what he did. Geno sprang his friend Phil, to score goals with such a thrill. From the bench barked Sully, “on Tanger, on Rust, on Pearson and ZAR!” His zone entries a concern of the past, Hornqvist would make that contract last. Johnson remained an anchor, drawing all the fans ire. GMJR put down his ice cream, giving a nod as his eyes gleamed, “Let’s go Pens and find me a D that can defend.”
Kessel back down to the third line with Brassard, Murr between the pipes. McElhiney in the Carolina cage. Former Penguins forward Jordan Staal returned. Remember when he got traded on his wedding day? Must of sucked. Then his brother left Carolina. Yikes.
Last game before the four-day holiday break. Here’s to holding out hope the Pens don’t treat this like the last day of work and just phone it in.
For the first eight minutes of this period, you would not be faulted if you took a quick power nap. It was like watching a game of foosball where neither person has any idea what they were doing. The Hurricanes would go up the ice, lose the puck. The Penguins would go up the ice, lose the puck.
Then, it was time for Big Game Bryan to arrive. Sid was well on his was to crossing the blue line, Rust got a little too far ahead, did the splits to get back onside and it was time for some of that sweet, sweet 87 magic.
A great keep by Big Game Bryan, then the Backhands Only Tour made its stop at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. An unrealistic backhand pass from Sid to a pinching Letang and the 2019 Norris recipient, Kris Letang didn’t make any mistakes.
Eight goals, 28 points in 34 games, but go off with your “he sucks takes.”
With just under six minutes to go, Riikola was rung up for Delay of Game, puck over the glass, but it was in the Pens bench because the rulebook is entirely subjective and this sport is dumb, as well as stupid.
The PK made quick work. Right after Jared Foegel, taking a break from hawking Subway sandwiches, found himself on a breakaway.
Not fooling Money.
A rip from Dougie “Purveyor of Art” Hamilton did fool Money. The horn went off, the six Hurricanes fans cheered, but it hit the crossbar. Good job, jokes.
Subway Sandwich guy got another partial breakaway. Murr again.
That’s where we’d finish. Murray with a stunning 10 (TEN!!!) high-danger saves on 11 shots on goal. Quite a period to silence the haters and losers (of which there are many!).
Carolina with a 69% (nice) of the shot share after 18:00 minutes of 5v5 play. Woof.
Three minutes into the second period, The Best Player in the World set up Jake “Gonna get paid more than Nylander” Guentzel for his 14th of the year.
Crosby, doing that patented edgework behind the net, somehow threaded a pass through a highly-contested front of the net, Rusty provided a bit of a pick in front of McElhiney and Bake made no mistake.
Oh, a two-goal lead. Great. We’ve been awesome with those this year.
Crosby decided to pickpocket his former teammate Jordan Staal…off a faceoff. Let’s go to Twitter for the reaction:
That about sums it up.
Brass went to the box 10 minutes into the second for a hackin’ and a whackin’ the Canes. Carolina didn’t do much to hold anyone’s attention and then Jordan Staal decided to trip Sheahan. Twenty-four seconds of 4-on-4, then 1:36 of a power play. Outside of Geno trying to decapitate Hornqivst on a shot, not much to write home about on that one.
The Penguins would go right back to the PK as Sheahan would tug Dougie Hamilton’s stick, which in the sport of hockey, you cannot do. Another kill for the Pens suddenly elite PK.
With under a minute to go, the Sidney Crosby-Jake Guentzel connection came right back.
Phil Kessel, an underrated playmaker, gained the zone. Sid swooped in and Phil found 87 with the backhand pass and Jake came sneaking in late and again, Crosby made a completely unrealistic feed.
We gotta talk about what an asset it is to have a guy like Phil Kessel. His shot, work on the power play and goals will garner all the headlines, as well they should, but Kessel is a possession monster. You rarely ever see Phil dump the puck in. Given the fact that Phil has such a dangerous shot, he will always have the respect of the defensemen backing up in order to cover the middle. If Phil dumps the puck in here rather than gain the blue line and pull up, this goal likely doesn’t happen.
That’s where we’d end. Pens did a better job of limiting the shots for Carolina, but still giving up three high-danger chances against, but again, Murr was up to the task. Both teams lived right in front of the other’s net, but only the Pens could find the cage.
As the Pensblog’s resident Math Man, I can confirm this is #bad.
For the first eight minutes, much like the first, nothing happened. The Hurricanes had two chances worth a damn, but Murr was dialed in.
Pettersson took a penalty and the most exciting part of the Carolina power play was the fact they play the Law & Order sound after announcing a penalty. Pettersson served his time, he was released.
Did much else happen in the third? Nope. The Hurricanes had a few chances and Money Matt Murray was up to the task.
No storm surge tonight, you’re welcome Brian Burke.
Twenty (20!!!) shots on goal for the Canes in the third and six from high-danger. Where you at, Murray haters?
- Listen, none of us want to think of this, but one day, Sidney Crosby is going to retire and no longer be on the Pittsburgh Penguins. Take a moment to appreciate that at age 31, he’s still very much on top of his game. Sure, Carolina may not be the class of the league, but tonight was a vintage 87 performance. Making passes only he can, seeing the ice and knowing what is going to happen before it does and being the best goddamned grinder in the NHL.
- Think it’s safe to say Murray is back. A 38-save performance against LA, huge one-goal effort against the Caps and then he was dialed in tonight. There is no way to quantify it, but when there is a goalie behind Matt Murray that could plausibly take his job, you’re gonna have to take it from his cold, dead hands. Welcome back, Murr.
- Here’s a hill I’m going to die on: the NHL and Penguins broadcast has been fast and loose with “natural hat tricks.” As far as I know and remember, a natural hat trick is three, uninterrupted goals in the same period. Jake Guentzel had two in the second and it was mentioned he had a chance for the ice cold natty. Nope.
- Speaking of ole Jake…our boy is getting paid this summer. Jesse broke down how good he’s been on The Athletic and if William Nylander is getting $6.9M, Jake’s worth $5M easy. He’s not a beneficiary of Sidney Crosby, he belongs there.
- Don’t look now, Pens winners of five of their last six are now one point back of second and three off the division lead. Check your calendars, December is when this team wakes up. Happens every year.
- Carolina, man. Imagine if this team held on to Skinner. They’d be so much better and be in the conversation as a legit threat in the Metro Division. Instead, they’re in the mushy middle. Their defense is pretty good, their goaltending is meh and the forward group isn’t exactly daunting.
- If you celebrate it, have a merry Christmas, if not, enjoy the week and time off work. May your ones be cold, your company good and takes hot.
- We’ll see you Wednesday for the Grab Bag and then Thursday for when Detroit comes to town.