The Pittsburgh Penguins’ dressing room displayed a complete turnaround in about 24 hours.
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One night after a tough home loss to Philadelphia, the Penguins rebounded to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0 on Saturday night.
The loss on Friday produced a team meeting and glum talk, but after bouncing back against the Hurricanes the mood brightened. Led Zeppelin blared through the stereo and players doused each other with Gatorade.
”I think everyone’s got a lot of pride and high expectations of each other and individually, too,” said captain Sidney Crosby, who had two assists. ”That was a great way to respond.”
Brent Johnson made 33 saves, and Pascal Dupuis scored two goals to lead Pittsburgh. Maxime Talbot also scored for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game losing streak.
Pittsburgh played without star forward Evgeni Malkin, who missed the game because of an apparent lower body injury sustained Friday in the third period. Eric Godard played in his place.
The 34-year-old Johnson (5-0-1) earned his 14th NHL shutout. He entered the game ranked second in the league in goals-against average and save percentage.
”My confidence is feeling pretty good,” Johnson said. ”I’m feeling pretty good.”
Cam Ward made 28 saves for the Hurricanes, who have lost both home games this season 3-0.
Carolina coach Paul Maurice thought the Hurricanes created enough opportunities to make the game interesting.
”I’m not saying we had enough chances that if we bury them, we win the game, but certainly it’s a tight game,” Maurice said.
Carolina had three quality scoring chances in the opening minutes, but Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead when Dupuis charged in on left wing and veered to the center before backhanding a shot between Ward’s legs.
The Penguins stretched the lead to 2-0 in the second on an odd-man rush. Arron Asham lofted a saucer pass to Talbot, who smacked a backhander underneath Ward.
Dupuis finished the scoring midway through the third period when he took advantage of an aggressive pinch by Hurricanes defenseman Jamie McBain and snapped a shot under Ward’s arm on the ensuing rush.
Pittsburgh got off to a good start to its four-game road trip. The Penguins (6-5-1) have struggled at home, going 2-4 in their inaugural season at their new arena, but excelled away from Pittsburgh.
”We talked a little bit after the game last night about what we weren’t doing,” said Dupuis, shaking his head after having Gatorade poured over his hair by teammate Matt Cooke. ”We did execute.”
The Hurricanes juggled their lines in the third period, but couldn’t beat Johnson. Not even a 5-on-3 power play that lasted 47 seconds could spark the offense. The Hurricanes have scored six goals in their five losses.
Still, Carolina finished October with a 5-5 mark after opening the season with its first seven games on the road.
”There was the possibility that when you looked at that schedule and you looked at where we’re at, it could have been a very difficult start with the youth we have,” Maurice said. ”That didn’t happen.”