Hockey (Last) Night in Canada: March of the Penguins

After another beating by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night, Paul Maurice and his Cardiac Canes needed a win to keep their playoff dreams alive. While the Canes are looking to maintain their playoff series win streak that stretches back to 2006, the Penguins are seeking a return trip to the Stanley Cup finals.

Pittsburgh 4 @ Carolina 1 – Bring out the broomsticks! The Penguins are headed back to the Stanley Cup final, clinching a return trip with a 4-1 beating of the Carolina Hurricanes last night that finished off a sweep in the Eastern Conference final.

The Hurricanes needed the homecrowd support as they were on the brink of elimination. For a moment, it seemed like the home turf did give the Canes the advantage. The team stormed out the gate early as Eric Staal scores the first goal of the night to give the Canes the 1-0 lead. However, that was the only time the Canes were able to push the puck past Fleury.

Carolina’s lead didn’t last very long as Fedotenko scored the Penguins’ first goal midway through the first period when he sneaked behind Ward and tipped in Philippe Boucher’s blast from the point. With a minute and a half to go in the first, Talbot’s wrist shot deflects off Babchuk’s skate and slips past Cam Ward to give the Penguins the lead. It may have been a fluky goal, but it was enough the seal the fate of the Hurricanes. Babchuk’s misfortunes continues in the middle of the second period as he turns the puck over to Bill Guerin at the  blue line, which led to a 2 on 1 rush that ended with Crosby feeding the puck back to Guerin for the Pens’ third goal. Craig Adams added an empty netter near the end of the game to seal the deal.

In addition to his fluky goal in the first period, Maxime Talbot also had an assist for a 2 point night. Sidney Crosby also had a good night with 2 assists. Fleury had another stellar game as he stopped 30 of 31 pucks for the night. The same can’t be said for Cam Ward as he only made 21 saves from 24 shots.

If the Stanley Cup champion Red Wings beat the Blackhawks in the Western final, it will set up the first title rematch since the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders met in 1983 and ’84. The Red Wings, who lead Chicago 3-1 in the Western final, could join the Pens in the finals as soon as tonight.

Pittsburgh wins the series 4-0

Three Stars of the Night:
1. Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh)
2. Marc Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh)
3. Maxime Talbot (Pittsburgh)

Wednesday’s Schedule:
Chicago at Detroit – Detroit leads the series 3-1 (TV: CBC, Versus)

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