Another Tough Win: 3 Key Reasons the Penguins Edged Out the Hurricanes

The Pittsburgh Penguins prevailed in a thrilling shootout against the Hurricanes, with Sidney Crosby leading the charge.

Carolina Hurricanes v Pittsburgh Penguins
Carolina Hurricanes v Pittsburgh Penguins / Justin Berl/GettyImages

We just witnessed the Pittsburgh Penguins snatch a heart-stopping 2-1 shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes. This wasn't just any victory; it was a crucial one against a team we're elbow-to-elbow within the division.

We all love a clean win in regulation, but adding another notch to our win streak against a division rival? That's gold. But let's not gloss over how this win came about. It wasn't looking too good for our boys as the third period rolled in. Yet, they flipped the script in a way only the Penguins can.

There were three key reasons, three pivotal moments that turned what seemed like an impending loss into a thrilling victory. Let’s dive into these game-changers and see just how the Penguins pulled off this magic.

3. The Penguins Kept the Score Low

Let's state the obvious: The Penguins managed to keep the score low against a Hurricanes team that just racked up six goals in their last game. This point is crucial.

Without holding the Canes to a minimum, the Pens wouldn’t have even sniffed the chance of a shootout, let alone clinch a win. How did they pull it off? Well, one of the main reasons is a standout factor that deserves its own spotlight, but we'll get to that. Despite a somewhat lackluster defensive energy, they did enough to keep things tight.

Remember, the only goal the Canes managed came off Kris Letang's skate – not exactly a showcase of skill, more like a stroke of luck. So, we can file that one under 'fortunate for them'. But it was in the 3rd period where the Penguins really shone defensively.

They upped their physical game, with Noel Acciari leading the charge. Acciari's physical prowess was on full display, and tonight was no exception.

2. Sidney Crosby: Unstoppable as Ever

At 36, Sidney Crosby is defying the typical age curve in hockey. While many might expect a slowdown at this stage in his career, Crosby is doing anything but.

Among the Penguins' 'Big Three', it's Crosby who's been the standout difference-maker, especially this December. He's now netted 19 goals for the season, a remarkable feat that speaks volumes about his enduring skill and fitness.

Tonight's game just added to his legend. Crosby didn't just score the Penguins' first goal; he also nailed the decisive goal in the shootout, sealing the deal for the Pens. It's performances like these that remind us why Crosby is still one of the game's greats.

Alex Nedeljkovic, Teuvo Teravainen
Carolina Hurricanes v Pittsburgh Penguins / Justin Berl/GettyImages

1. Alex Nedeljkovic: The Penguins Iron Curtain

Alex Nedeljkovic stood tall as a veritable brick wall for the Penguins tonight. The only goal that slipped past him was Kris Letang's unintentional deflection, a moment that hardly reflects on Nedeljkovic's skill.

His formidable presence in the net was evident, as he racked up an impressive .958 save percentage – a clear indicator of his prowess between the pipes.

The starting goalie for the game was a subject of speculation. Many, including myself, anticipated Tristan Jarry to be the go-to choice. However, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan threw a curveball by announcing Nedeljkovic as the starter.

Sullivan's decision was based on the solid performances from both goalies this season, and Nedeljkovic more than justified this faith in him. In tonight's crucial moments, particularly during the shootout, he was impenetrable, stopping the Hurricanes' attempts to score.

This remarkable showing not only secured a significant win against a strong division rival but also bolstered the Penguins' position in the standings.

What's Next for the Pittsburgh Penguins?

Next up for the Penguins? A road trip, and it's a biggie - their last faceoff before the Christmas break. They're off to Ottawa, squaring off against the Senators. Let's talk about Ottawa for a second - they're not exactly lighting it up right now. They're stuck in a rough five-game skid, sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic Division, a distant eighth.

For the Pens, this is more than just another game. It's the perfect shot to gain some ground in the Metro standings. They've been scraping for wins lately, and facing the Senators might just be the break they need. The big question now: Can they capitalize on this chance and snag those much-needed goals?