By JOEDY McCREARY
RALEIGH, N.C. —
Jiri Tlusty had two goals and an assist, and the Carolina Hurricanes beat Pittsburgh 4-1 on Thursday night in ex-Penguin Jordan Staal’s first game against his former team.
Eric Staal had a goal and two assists, Alexander Semin added two assists and Jeff Skinner scored a goal in his first game back from a concussion.
The Southeast Division co-leaders erased an early 1-0 deficit by scoring three goals in a span of 6 minutes, 14 seconds and won for just the second time in six games.
Chris Kunitz scored for the Penguins, who entered leading the Atlantic Division but were held without a power-play goal for the first time since Feb. 2.
Cam Ward made 26 saves for Carolina.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 25 shots for the Penguins, who have lost the first two games of a three-game road swing.
All the pregame attention was on Jordan Staal’s first meeting with his former teammates since the blockbuster trade on draft night that sent him to his brother’s team for Brandon Sutter and others.
But while Jordan Staal didn’t show up on the score sheet, big brother Eric sure did: The line he centered for Tlusty and Semin produced three goals.
The Hurricanes started their scoring binge in the final minute of the first period, tying it at 1 with 24.1 seconds left when Eric Staal redirected Semin’s spinning shot.
Tlusty then made it 2-1 by stuffing in the rebound of Eric Staal’s close-range shot 4:03 into the second.
Skinner pushed the lead to 3-1 just 1:46 later when he scored off a pretty backhand pass from Patrick Dwyer.
Tlusty capped Carolina’s three-goal second period and made it a three-goal game with 10.1 seconds left.
That had the Hurricanes on their way to yet another victory over a non-Southeast Division team.
They are 0-5 against the other four teams in their division – and 10-3-1 against everybody else.
This one started just as the stat sheet suggested it would – with the Penguins scoring first.
Sidney Crosby delivered a pretty cross-ice pass to Kunitz, who fired a one-timer past Ward to make it 1-0 with 6:46 left.
The Penguins entered outscoring their opponents 23-9 in the first period, while Carolina had been outscored 21-7 in the opening 20 minutes.
And for more than 19 minutes of the period, it looked as though those stats would hold – until Staal’s redirection started the Hurricanes’ flurry against Fleury.
Notes: Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said C Evgeni Malkin, who missed his third straight game with a concussion, skated for the second consecutive day at the team’s practice facility south of Pittsburgh – and uncorked a nifty trick shot, sending a puck into a bag from center ice. Bylsma said there is no timetable for Malkin’s return. ... Skinner was one of four Hurricanes who returned from injuries, joining D Tim Gleason, D Jamie McBain and C Tim Brent. ... Carolina was 1-4 without Skinner.