Sports

The Canes start a road trip by shutting out the Penguins 4-0. Here’s the plus/minus.

Pittsburgh Penguins’ Garrett Wilson, center, is upended next to Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Curtis McElhinney, second from right, during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Penguins’ Garrett Wilson, center, is upended next to Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Curtis McElhinney, second from right, during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) AP

The Carolina Hurricanes began a five-game road trip, their longest of the season, on Tuesday by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0.

The plus/minus:

PLUS

Curtis McElhinney. First start in net since Jan. 15? No problem for the old pro. The goalie now has his first shutout with the Canes and the ninth of his career.

The D corps. All of the D. Jaccob Slavin, Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce, Dougie Hamilton, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Calvin de Haan. Got the job done. Gapped up well, moved the puck smartly, Pesce scored. It was all there.

Jaccob Slavin, It was one of his best games of the season. His stick work and body positioning against the Pens’ Sidney Crosby was near flawless. “You didn’t see Sidney get wound up too many times,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.

Justin Faulk. Another solid game in a season that has had several for No. 27. Six blocked shots, four hits, plus-2 night.

Jordan Martinook. Can 2019 get any better for him? Becomes a father, new contract extension, scoring goals. Got the first one Tuesday, late in the first period and one the Pens’ Kris Letang called deflating. A playoff spot would be a nice way to cap a memorable regular season, Martinook would say.

Aggressive play. The Canes set the tone early and kept it up. The tougher team won this night, winning a lot of the 50-50 puck battles. Brock McGinn knocking the Pens’ Jared McCann to the ice with a big, clean hit in the first was an energizer. “We were ready to play,” Brind’Amour said.

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Carolina Hurricanes’ Brett Pesce (22) celebrates his goal with Sebastian Aho, left, as Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby (87) skates back to his bench during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Gene J. Puskar AP

MINUS

Canes power play. The Canes spent considerable time working on the power play in practice Monday, then looked mostly dysfunctional on Tuesday on their two power-play opportunities, getting one shot. Still too slow with the puck movement. The Pens weren’t much better.

Sidney Crosby. Minus-2 night for the Pens captain. Had a couple of Grade-A scoring chances but couldn’t find the net, as he so often does against Carolina. “It was a tight game and you have to capitalize,” Crosby said.

Jordan Staal, Evgeni Malkin injuries. Both teams were missing big centers -- Staal still recovering from concussion symptoms, Malkin out with an upper-body injury. Always a better game when the big boys play.

In more than 30 years at The N&O, Chip Alexander has covered the N.C. State, UNC, Duke and East Carolina beats, and now is in his 11th season on the Carolina Hurricanes beat. Alexander, who has won numerous writing awards at the state and national level, covered the Hurricanes’ move to North Carolina in 1997 and was a part of The N&O’s coverage of the Canes’ 2006 Stanley Cup run.


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