by Kate Shefte
After a smarting defeat on Thursday in which Carolina carried a one-goal lead into the third period and then allowed the Pittsburgh Penguins to pull ahead with two goals in 32 seconds, the Hurricanes will try to patch up their defensive play and move on in time for tonight’s game in Long Island. Sidney Crosby and Ruslan Fedotenko scored in a rapid-fire manner and turned what looked like a sure thing into a scary situation. Max Talbot added another goal and Evgeni Malkin potted an empty-netter, sending the ‘Canes home miserable and igniting a flurry of “what went wrong?” discussion. What did go wrong? (Where to begin.) Michael Leighton stood on his head once again and kept the ‘Canes in the game, but the ‘Canes were outshot and out-chanced. The team pressed too far in, creating numerous odd-man rushes for their opponent – something that they could not afford to do against a team like Pittsburgh. Yet again, for many stretches of play, the team looked slow and sloppy while the Pens danced in circles around them. It was a miracle that the lead held up as long as it did.
The one bright spot in the game was the Hurricanes’ lone goal, provided by rookie Brandon Sutter. The goal was an unassisted stunner; Sutter picked off a Brooks Orpik pass and skated in alone, slipping the puck behind a surprised Marc-Andre Fleury. As predicted by yours truly, Pens forward Jordan Staal brought his best effort of the young season and was rewarded with an assist on the second Pittsburgh goal.
The good news is that they still have time to make up for it. With 3 games remaining in this crucial road swing, the Hurricanes are 1-1-1 going into tonight’s match-up against the New York Islanders, a team that the ‘Canes should theoretically be able to handle. The Islanders are last in the talent-laden Atlantic Conference and have a record of 2-4. The team’s only two victories came against the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning, who have only two wins between them on the season. Former 'Cane Doug Weight is currently tied for the lead in points on the Islanders squad with six. The game begins at 7 p.m. Eastern time.