The Rink Report: Penguins gain ground in metropolitan division as they beat the Hurricanes

Written By Anthony Cugini, Sports Columnist

On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 4-2.

In the final meeting of the season between the two teams, Pittsburgh picked up their first win over Carolina in over 1,000 days. Though this is partly due to the fact this was only the fourth meeting between Pittsburgh and Carolina in that time period.

Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry was stellar as he saved 41 of the 43 shots he faced. Jarry made multiple saves throughout the game that looked to have been sure goals which helped lead Pittsburgh to the two points.

The Penguins found scoring from unlikely sources as fourth-liners Brian Boyle and Zach Aston-Reese picked up goals. For Aston-Reeses, this was his first goal of the season. Pens’ captain Sidney Crosby also contributed as he scored an impressive empty-netter from the opposite end of the rink to help secure the win for Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh has struggled throughout the year to find scoring from other places other than their stars. In their last two wins, this has been less of an issue as defensemen Mark Friedman and Mike Matheson both picked up goals against the Golden Knights on Friday.

22-year old forward Valtteri Puustinen made his NHL debut with the Penguins in their battle against Vegas. Puustinen picked up an assist on a goal from Jeff Carter as he logged his first game in the league. Though he was sent back down to the minors shortly after his debut.

Pittsburgh made a note-worthy change to their lineup on Sunday as coach Mike Sullivan decided to split up the defensive pairing of Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin. Sullivan opted to keep Letang with Mike Matheson just as he did when Dumoulin was out injured for the game on Friday. This left a pairing of Dumoulin and John Marino. This coaching decision seemed to have paid off as Letang, Marino and Matheson all picked up assists in the victory.

The Pittsburgh Penguins still sit second in the division as they remain six points behind the Hurricanes and now two points ahead of the New York Rangers. Pittsburgh will travel to Nashville to play the Predators on Tuesday. The Predators lost their last game to the St. Louis Blues, though, won three straight games prior to the defeat.