The Rink Report: Pens woes continue with loss to Hurricanes

Written By Anthony Cugini, Sports Columnist

The Pittsburgh Penguins lost their second consecutive game after falling to the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 2-1. 

The Penguins struggled to find the back of the net with the lone goal coming off of a huge mistake from the Carolina goaltender Frederik Andersen. 

After gloving the puck Andersen attempted to drop it to his stick to smack it down the ice. Instead of the puck going 200 feet down to the other side of the rink, Rickard Rakell was able to bat it out of mid air and into the Hurricanes net.

Despite the mistake from Andersen, he was able to stop 34 of the 35 shots the Penguins put on net.  

After losing at home to the Winnipeg Jets and struggling against the Hurricanes, Pittsburgh have now lost eight of their last ten games. Though I’ll admit, it’s hard to win games when half of your defense is out injured.

Kris Letang, Jeff Petry, and Marcus Petterson are arguably the Penguins’ best three defenders. Petterson has missed Pittsburgh’s last two games while Letang has missed the last seven. Petry has them both beat as he’s been out for the last 13 games with a wrist injury. 

The good news is Petterson and Petry are close to returning with Petterson being day-to-day while Petry has skated in practices for the last week. The bad news is there still isn’t any signs that Kris Letang is close to making his return.

Letang is the third of Pittsburgh’s three musketeers and with him out the Penguins have undoubtedly been worse. The power play has been hit the hardest by Letang’s loss as Pittsburgh is now below the league average in power play percentage at 20.81%. Though young defender Ty Smith hasn’t been bad on the power play unit, he’s no Kris Letang. 

On top of all the defensive injuries, the Pens’ number one goalie Tristan Jarry remains out with a lower body injury. He has skated in the past few days so he’s not too far from making his return. 

Jarry was injured in the Winter Classic in Boston and had to be replaced by backup Casey DeSmith. Though DeSmith might be a better frisbee golfer then he is a goaltender, he’s been serviceable to say the least. DeSmith put together a good statline against the Hurricanes as he stopped 34 of the 36 shots he faced in Carolina. 

The road ahead does look a little brighter as Pittsburgh’s next three games are against the Anaheim Ducks and the Ottawa Senators. The Ducks are the second worst team in the league as only the Chicago Blackhawks have fewer points. Though the Senators aren’t quite as bad, they still are well away from a playoff spot. 

The Penguins will have to use these next few games as a way to get out of the rut they’ve been in for the last few weeks. If the Pens want any chance of making the playoffs they’re going to have to start winning hockey games. The next week has a few golden opportunities to do so.