Well, say what you want about Carolina not being as offensively gifted as the Washington Capitals, but whatever they are missing, they make up for in dogged determination and relentless attacks. Game Two between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Carolina Hurricanes was, in one word, fantastic. Before this year's playoffs, when was the last time you saw 11 goals scored by two teams in a Conference Final? Go all the way back to May 30, 1999 when the Colorado Avalanche outscored the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final by a 7-5 margin. If you want goals, the Eastern Conference is providing them in bunches.
Carolina had never lost a Game Two that Ca, Ward started since moving to North Carolina, and they needed a split to go home with home-ice advantage. However, you can forget about Carolina's and Cam Ward's Game Two dominance. Evgeni Malkin would have none of that talk tonight. His three goals and one assist was enough to even Carolina's four goals tonight. Crosby chipped in a goal and an assist, and Chris Kunitz had a goal and two assists tonight. The stars came to play tonight in Pittsburgh, and they wore black-and-Vegas-gold.
That's not to say that Carolina didn't play hard. Carolina tied the game at 1-1, 2-2, took a lead at 3-2, and then tied the game at 4-4 before the Penguins began driving nails into the coffin. After watching Carolina storm back in Game Seven against the Devils in the opening round, and then ousting Boston in overtime in Game Seven in Round Two, I was convinced that no lead was safe. And apparently the Penguins felt the same way as they continued to forecheck hard.
If you didn't see it, Evgeni Malkin's goal for the hat-trick was literally one of the best backhands I have seen this season. Here are Malkin's three goals tonight, his first NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs hat-trick:
That backhander? Unbelievable. All-world talent.
Are you ready for Game Three, Raleigh? This series is turning out to be another highlight reel series.
Cam Ward vs. Marc-Andre Fleury? Edge thus far to Fleury.
Staal vs. Staal? Eric has no goals, and Carolina has no wins.
Crosby and Malkin? Difference-makers thus far in the series.
Yes, the stars have shown up for this series. I'm looking forward to Game Three!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!