As a Hockey fan, you never like to see a ridiculously one-sided match such as what was on display Saturday evening when the Penguins walloped the Canes 6-2. Not so much a Pens fan though.
To tell the truth, Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals was closer than the score may indicate — for most of the first period at least.
Well, until Crosby and Malkin decided to score to goals in the last minute and carve out a 3-1 lead, one that was only even tested when Sergei Samsonov got one in past Fleury at almost two minutes into the second. After that, the Hurricanes were chasing the Penguins, on the scoreboard and on the ice.
Evgeni Malkin and Sideny Crosby have continued to steadily build up their resumes as the greatest clutch forwards of their generation. Malkin has a six game, multi-point streak, something that has not been achieved since the early nineties. Both have point-per-game paces that compare to greats like Lemieux, Gretzky, and Messier.
Both have also posted two points mid-way through game three and could have easily had five each.
The Penguins have outskated the Canes for the entire second period of the game. Every instance the Hurricanes try to establish a forecheck the Penguins quickly poke the puck out of their zone or force a turnover. The Canes have just been unable to create any sort of sustained pressure. Dumping the puck in has proved to be difficult as the Penguins play a three man back system. Meaning while one player is retrieving the puck in his own end, he is given support around the net and further along the boards to assure he can get the puck out of his zone.
If the Canes try to carry the puck in…well, just watch the replay of some of the goals Crosby and Malkin has scored this series to see what happens then.
How much of the Canes exhaustion is due to the fewer days off they had than the Penguins? How much is the Canes simply being outclassed? Players like Jani Pitkanen, Joe Corvo, and Tim Gleason do not match up to the Penguins top three of Gonchar, Letang, and Orpik. Their forward corps, if you remove Crosby and Malkin out of the equation, is comparable. Perhaps that is the difference of this series; it has surely been the difference in this game.
If it was not for Cam Ward, this game could have easily been 6-1.
When Joe Corvo was being interviewed by Chris Simpson, his eyes were glazed over. Here was a man who appeared to think his season was already over. When asked what the Canes need to do to bury their chances, he had no answer. There is no answer. While his eyes may have been glazed during the second intermission, they were welling up at the end of the third when he took a penalty.
The empty net goal by Craig Adams was a deflator. The sixth by Guerin was just a joke.
What do the Penguins need to look for tonight in Raleigh? Well for one, they need to ignore the big chin playing with the goal horn. For two, they need to get a lead. Two they need to get a big lead. Three, they need to keep that lead. The rest should fall into place after that. Seriously, the Canes have played like a group of wide-eyed children (which is ironic but that's a different thing altgeother). If the Penguins continue to play this soffocating brand of hockey, Game Four will be a contest in name only.
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Written by Ian Altenbaugh