Led by star goaltender Frederik Andersen and an impressive defensive effort, the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in PNC Arena on Saturday, Jan. 14.
With this win, the Canes (27-9-7) swept the season series against Pittsburgh (21-15-6) and extended their lead in a competitive Metropolitan division.
Andersen stopped 34 of 35 shots in the crease this evening, standing on his head to keep the Canes alive. Carolina killed off numerous penalties throughout the game and relied on its strong group of defensemen to lead the team to victory.
“We played a really good game,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “I love how we killed the penalties — I thought we did a great job. Obviously, you don’t want to take those [penalties]. That was tough.”
Pittsburgh started out on a high note, nearly putting one past Andersen early, but the game quickly tipped in Carolina’s favor. Defenseman Brady Skjei scored the Hurricanes’ go-ahead goal, his ninth of the season, to put them up by one late in the first frame.
Rickard Rakell bites, and #76 takes advantage of the afforded real estate.The ninth of the year for Skjei. pic.twitter.com/qeBYkUqNd2— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) January 15, 2023
Carolina’s blue line continued to impress, putting up two goals two days after defensemen Brett Pesce, Brent Burns, Jalen Chatfield and Jaccob Slavin scored a combined five goals for the Hurricanes in Columbus. The Canes’ forwards were often able to draw in multiple Penguins defenders, which created space in the slot for Chatfield and Skjei to score one goal apiece. Chatfield in particular had a good night, putting up his fourth goal since Dec. 22.
As of this moment, only three defensemen in the NHL have four goals since December 22.• Cale Makar• Roman Josi• Jalen Chatfield pic.twitter.com/ciSEzgNFHg— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) January 15, 2023
“[Chatfield’s] been great all year,” Skjei said. “He’s just a rock back there, very solid. He can move on the ice — he flies when he skates, great defenseman, great defender. It’s always nice to see when he chips in offensively.”
Andersen’s biggest mistake of the game came on a Pittsburgh power play about halfway through the third frame. Instead of flicking the puck to a teammate, the star netminder flipped the biscuit right into the stick of Pittsburgh right wing Rickard Rakell, who took the opportunity to send it back over Andersen’s shoulder.
TRICKY RICKY! 🏒 pic.twitter.com/SERvPmLcK5— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 15, 2023
“One of [Andersen’s] strengths is, he doesn’t get too high and he certainly doesn’t get too low either,” Brind’Amour said. “Clearly, he did that in there.”
The inter-division win marks Carolina’s second in a row, a good sign for a team that suffered a four-game losing streak earlier this month. With two decisive wins from a strong, well-rounded squad, the Hurricanes are looking better than ever ahead of the back half of the regular season.
“We know what we want to do every night, even when we lose,” Chatfield said. “We stuck to the game plan and we knew it was gonna turn around sooner rather than later. Now you can see us starting to win again.”
Notably, left wing Max Pacioretty missed tonight’s game due to a seemingly benign lower-body injury. According to Hurricanes team reporter Walt Ruff, head coach Rod Brind’Amour doesn’t think the 34-year-old’s injury is anything particularly serious. Regardless, it’s likely that the star forward will miss tomorrow’s game against the Vancouver Canucks.
After a disappointing stretch, the Hurricanes look to build on two straight wins when they face a struggling Vancouver Canucks team at 5 p.m. in PNC Arena.