Did you know how great Cam Ward is? He's the best goalie left in the playoffs!! He's won the Cup!! OMG!!
Cam Ward accomplished something else tonight - he won the Worst Goalie competition with Marc-Andre Fleury. He's also just the second goalie in the Eastern Conference to allow six goals in the playoffs (the other one was Varlamov, against the Pens in Game 7).
As bad as the goaltending was (and it was bad on both ends), the team defense was worse. The Pens were fortunate to get their defense under control enough to win the game. If the Canes had even a reasonable team performance, you'd think that four goals would put them in position to win. They didn't have that.
The good news here is that after a rocky first period when they allowed three goals on 14 shots, they Pens tightened things up and allowed just 14 shots for the rest of the game. Fleury still wasn't on top of his game, but he was good enough. The Pens did what was needed to win.
The Pens' offensive stars were the beneficiaries of the lackadaisical defense on the part of the Canes. Geno had his first playoff hat trick. That could be huge, if he can carry some momentum into the rest of the series. Cooke and Kunitz had three points each. Sid, Letang, Kennedy and Guerin each had two points.
Now that I've said those nice things, let's let some air out of the balloon. If the Pens don't get their play in their own end under control going into Raleigh, they're going to be in trouble. Just as Washington found out last series, holding serve at home for the first two games isn't enough. The Canes will tighten things up. Cam Ward will play better. The Pens need to be ready, or they'll be in trouble, coming back to Pittsburgh with the series tied 2-2.
Ryan Bayda will likely be suspended - he was given a match penalty for an attempt to injure. That was an icing play that he elbowed Letang on with just over one minute remaining in the third. It was a cheap play - icing is well known to be no-touch. I'm not sure that approach will work on the Pens - they've seen the Flyers shenanigans so many times that everyone else pales in comparison to the goons from Philly.
Next up: A HUGE Saturday night game in Raleigh. A win means the Canes are longshots. A loss means it's a new series. HUGE!!