Neal scored 1:03 into the extra session, putting the puck past
goaltender Justin Peters as the Penguins defeated the Carolina
Hurricanes 4-3 at PNC Arena.
"It's a different kind of battle when you're battling against your
buddy," Neal said, calling Peters one of his best friends since
their days as teammates in juniors.
Neal took the puck on a give-and-go from left winger Jussi Jokinen
for the winning goal.
"(Peters) had my number all night and I got one," Neal said. "He has
been playing great for them. He comes and plays another great game."
Neal's tally came after a frantic third period when Penguins
defenseman Deryk Engelland, in his first game back after sitting out
five games as part of a suspension, scored with 6:45 remaining to
put the Penguins ahead.
Engelland's blast trickled into the net past Peters. It was
Engelland's third goal in 28 games this season.
But Carolina left winger Drayson Bowman responded to tie the game at
3 with 2:29 left in regulation on a wraparound.
Even though the Hurricanes dropped to 2-9 in overtime games this
season, their problems began earlier than that.
"We were vulnerable in the third period even though we were up,"
Carolina center Jordan Staal said. "That's a good team and knows how
to score goals."
Penguins right winger Chris Conner tied the game at 2 less than two
minutes into the third period.
Center Sidney Crosby scored earlier for the Penguins, who hold the
best record in the Eastern Conference. They were in danger of being
saddled with consecutive losses for the first time since early
Defenseman Andrej Sekera and left winger Nathan Gerbe scored earlier
for Carolina, which lost its fourth game in a row.
"It would have been nice to get two points tonight, but getting that
late goal (from Bowman) was a big booster," Peters said.
Pittsburgh, which had a seven-game winning streak snapped Monday
night in a 5-0 loss at Ottawa, limited the Hurricanes to two shots
across the first 15 minutes of the third period.
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Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 31 shots for the Penguins.
"(He) was our best player," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
"I think it's in the coaches' manual that you try not to look
too hard at the game after the Christmas break. We gave them a
lot of opportunities in the first period. Luckily, we were able
to stay in the game."
Fleury was so busy that he said he felt the impact of a few hard
shots in his direction. He said there were a couple of that felt
like what he called "stingers."
Peters finished with 22 saves.
The teams combined for three goals in a 32-second span.
Sekera sent a back-hander past Fleury with 1.3 seconds left in
the first period.
Crosby, who has a 10-game points streak against Hurricanes,
scored 16 seconds into the second period.
Fourteen seconds later, Gerbe poked the puck after an initial
shot by right winger Alexander Semin.
Conner made his way around defenseman Ryan Murphy and slid the
puck past Peters just 1:58 into the third period, tying the game
The Hurricanes logged 14 of the game's first 18 shots on goal.
NOTES: The Penguins played their first game without RW Pascal
Dupuis since he suffered what is believed to be a season-ending
knee injury Monday at Ottawa. He is scheduled to have surgery
for an ACL injury, the team announced. ... Hurricanes LW Jiri
Tlusty will miss two-to-three weeks after undergoing an
emergency appendectomy Tuesday. ... To take Tlusty's roster
spot, LW Zach Boychuk was recalled from Charlotte of the AHL for
the second time this season. ... The Hurricanes placed D Jay
Harrison on injured reserve with a concussion. ... With D Brooks
Orpik back in the Pittsburgh lineup after an eight-game absence
because of a concussion sustained Dec. 7, Penguins D Brian
Dumoulin was scratched for the first time since making his NHL
debut six games ago. ... Penguins LW Tanner Glass was back for
his first game since Nov. 23. ... Pittsburgh stays on the road
for Sunday's game at Columbus. ... The Hurricanes play Sunday at
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