There were three key turning points in the Hurricanes' 3-2 loss to the Penguins on Monday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. Here's a breakdown of each, with instant analysis from Hurricanes forward Ray Whitney.
1. First-period goaltending. While the Hurricanes pounded the puck at Marc-Andre Fleury, he never flinched, stopping all 12 shots he faced in the first period. Cam Ward, meanwhile, allowed two goals 84 seconds apart on a Miroslav Satan breakaway and an Evgeni Malkin backhand in the slot. Ward settled down after that, but the Hurricanes never closed the gap.
Whitney: "We lost a guy coming out of a penalty box for one. We had not a bad
change, but a tired group on the second goal, and other than that, we
had some unbelievable chances. (Marc-Andre) Fleury was great. In the
first period, he made some great saves on (Sergei) Samsonov and (Jussi)
Jokinen. We played a little better first game but we still have better,
2. Third-period struggles. The Hurricanes generated chances throughout the first and second periods and went into the third down a goal but were held without a shot for the first 12 minutes. And 3-for-3 on the penalty-kill to that point, they gave up the game-winner to Phillipe Boucher on the power play after Matt Cullen flipped the puck over the boards.
Whitney: “They tightened it up. I don’t think we changed anything. Sometimes you
have to give credit to the other team and not just look at yourself the
whole time. Certainly we should have generated a little more than we
3. Missing out on the magic. It looked like another Carolina comeback was brewing when Joe Corvo scored on a power play with 86 seconds to go, and the chance was there when Jussi Jokinen found Eric Staal at the back door with a wide open net and 29 seconds to go. But Staal could only tap the puck under Fleury, who covered it with his blocker.
Whitney: “I was 3 feet away from it. When Jokinen threw it, it went through me and it was right there. When he saw it, it was 3 feet away. He tried to scoop it and shovel it back towards him. If he had been able to stop it, he would have had all the time to do whatever he wanted. He didn’t see it and it was just a reaction play. Kind of unfortunate.”