Neal's Overtime Winner Ends Raleigh's Rally
Leading into the first game after the Christmas break, the top news was the confirmation of Pascal Dupuis' ACL injury and that surgery will be needed likely ending his season. To fill his roster spot, the Penguins had recalled Harry Zolnierczyk to the fold. As well as seeing the return of defenseman Deryk Engelland from his five game suspension for his head hit on Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader.
The first period was mostly controlled by the home side while both teams skated quite well for the first game back from a several day break. Passes for the Penguins were less crisp however and by the end of the first period the shots advantage was 16-7 in favor of the Hurricanes. The 16th shot found the back of the net as Andrej Sekera got an uncontested backhand around Marc-Andre Fleury's glove with only two seconds remaining in the period for a 1-0 lead.
The teams traded quick goals in the first thirty seconds of the second period as Sidney Crosby backhanded a bouncing puck in the slot passed Justin Peters. It was quickly responded by the Hurricanes as Alexander Semin fooled Olli Maatta into a turnover along the boards with a stick tap. His shot settled in the crease and was poked in by the sizeable Nathan Gerbe for a 2-1 lead.
Early in the third, Chris Conner tied the game at 2-2 with a slick backhander that found its way through Peters' five-hole. As if an impressive and timely goal from Conner wasn't enough, the returning Engelland sent a slap shot through traffic that found its way in off of the Hurricanes defense for a Penguins lead with 7 minutes remaining.
Drayson Bowman's late wraparound tied the game to send this tilt into one of the three point variety. Early in the extra frame, however, James Neal's shot refused to be stopped by Peters and the Penguins took the second point away with them to even their start to a four game road trip.
Next up for the Penguins is a 6:00 meeting against another new division foe, the Columbus Blue Jackets who will be looking for their first victory against the Penguins this season in these clubs' fourth meeting of the year. Jeff Zatkoff will be in net for the Penguins and possibly will see the return of defenseman Rob Scuderi as well. Word also awaits of Evgeni Malkin's status for tonight as well.