Center Elias Lindholm scored two second-period goals to break a
tie and lift the Hurricanes to a 4-1 victory over Pittsburgh,
preventing the Penguins from clinching the Metropolitan Division
title in front of the home fans at Consol Energy Center.
The Hurricanes (33-32-11) improved to 7-10-2 since the Olympic
break, but the win got them within five points of the Columbus Blue
Jackets for second of two Eastern Conference wild-card berths
entering play Tuesday.
With just six games remaining, Carolina understands it must play
with a sense of urgency and showed it after falling behind 1-0 to
the Penguins a night after losing to the Senators in a shootout at
"We had a tough game in Ottawa, got in real late and it took a while
for us to get our legs into it, but once we did, we really took
over," Hurricanes center and captain Eric Staal said. "I thought we
frustrated them and got the goals we needed."
The Penguins looked lethargic despite needing a victory to clinch
their third consecutive division championship.
It is almost certainly a matter of time, though, until the Penguins
win the Metropolitan Division. They have six games remaining and had
a 13-point lead over the New York Rangers going into Tuesday's play.
The Rangers played a late game at Vancouver on Tuesday night and a
loss to the Canucks would enable the Penguins to clinch first place.
"That's one of the things about the grind, 82 games, making sure you
prepare yourself mentally and make sure you're 100 percent ready,"
Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "It doesn't matter what team
you're playing, even if they're at the bottom of the standings, if
you're not 100 percent, they can expose you and make you look pretty
silly. That's what happened here."
Defenseman Justin Faulk and Staal also had goals for the Hurricanes,
who snapped their five-game losing streak against the Penguins.
Forward Jeff Skinner's four-game goal streak ended, but he assisted
on both of Lindholm's goals and forward Andrei Loktionov had helpers
on Carolina's other two goals.
Backup goaltender Anton Khudobin started for the Hurricanes and
stopped 30 shots.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby reached 100 points for the fifth time
in his nine-year career but first time since the 2009-10 season. The
NHL's leading scorer was credited with the secondary assist on
Pittsburgh's lone goal, which was scored by left winger Chris
Lindholm broke a 1-1 tie when he scored a power-play goal at 9:24 of
the second period, taking a pass from Skinner and pushing it past
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
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Lindholm extended the Hurricanes' lead to 3-1 when he scored again
at 14:57. That raised his goal total to eight this season.
The Hurricanes added to the lead in the third period when Staal
scored his 18th goal of the season at 11:47. It was just the
captain's second goal in his last 17 games.
Kunitz opened the scoring with his 35th goal of the season at 9:01
of the first period. The Hurricanes answered at 14:39 with Faulk's
"For the first 10 minutes, Khudobin kept us in the game and gave us
a chance to get our feet and get moving," Hurricanes coach Kirk
Muller said. "That goal from (Faulk) really evens it up and then we
kind of just took a deep breath, got our legs going better and then
I thought we just started moving better and playing a much smarter
While the Penguins are all but locked into the No. 2 spot in the
Eastern Conference, they have gone just 8-8-2 since the Olympic
break. Coach Dan Bylsma paused for a long time when asked what he
thought of his team's play during that stretch.
"The word 'worried' I guess when you look at the inconsistency of
our play," he said.
NOTES: Penguins C Brian Gibbons was wide left on his first career
penalty shot at 2:26 of the first period. ... Hurricanes C Jiri
Tlusty was scratched with a lower-body injury a night after being
boarded by Senators D Eric Gryba in a loss at Ottawa. ... Penguins D
Paul Martin, who broke a hand while playing for the United States in
the Olympics, is targeting a Sunday return when Pittsburgh faces the
Minnesota Wild in St. Paul. ... Panthers D John-Michael Liles
blocked four shots. ... Penguins D Brooks Orpik was credited with
five hits. ... The Penguins play the Jets in Winnipeg on Thursday
night and the Hurricanes host the Dallas Stars.
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