- Despite grabbing onto a 3-2 lead in the third period, the Carolina Hurricanes could not fend off the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they surrendered two goals in 13 seconds to drop a 5-3 decision. It’s the team’s franchise record eighth straight loss at home, and the team has gone winless in six April games. “It’s unfortunate,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “They were rested and sitting here waiting for us in a back-to-back, and yet we come out with a great effort. Compete level was high, the energy was great and that was a real tough game. Three turnovers in the neutral zone, and we paid for all three of them.”
- This is the second time in as many weeks that the Hurricanes have returned home following a game the night prior and come out of the gate as the better team. The team did great things, too – they got an early lead, fought back to tie the game, stayed composed in the second period and battled through a short bench in the third to take a lead – which makes the loss all the more stinging. “It always hurts to lose,” said Riley Nash, whose fourth goal of the season gave the Canes a 3-2 lead two minutes into the final frame. “I think every night for the last four or five games, we’ve come ready to compete. Really, we’re just coming out on the wrong end. It’s tough to watch because all these guys compete so hard.”
- Dan Ellis was tapped as the team’s starting goaltender this morning. He led the Canes out on the ice for warm-ups, but Justin Peters emerged first at the outset of the game. Ellis was apparently injured during warm-ups, and Muller had no further update after the game. “Peters did a great job for not thinking he was going to play and getting told five minutes before the drop of the puck that he’s the starting goalie,” Muller said.
- After missing nine games with a sprained MCL, Justin Faulk returned to the lineup, and, as has been the case this season, he led the team in ice time with 22:48. Though he was a minus-3 and sullenly assumed responsibility for not playing as well as he wanted to, Muller said he thought the 21-year-old defenseman put in a solid effort for his first game back, considering the circumstances.
- With Joe Corvo and Bobby Sanguinetti tallying in the first period, tonight marked the first game this season in which two Hurricanes defensemen have scored a goal in the same game. Corvo also had the team’s last blue line goal, scored on March 12 in Washington.
- Tim Brent played his last shift of the game with about six minutes left in the second period, and Drayson Bowman exited the match midway through the third period. Neither returned to the game, and Muller said Brent has lower-body injury and Bowman, an upper-body injury. Patrick Dwyer also did not play due to injury. “We’re obviously getting light on numbers,” Muller said.
- With little time to rest, the Hurricanes will be back in action again on Thursday from Washington, the fifth and final meeting between those two teams this season. “We’ve just got to find a way to end this slump,” Faulk said.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Beau Bennett and Evgeni Malkin scored 13 seconds apart in the third period and the Pittsburgh Penguins clinched the Atlantic Division title by beating the free-falling Carolina Hurricanes 5-3 on Tuesday night.
Brenden Morrow scored his first goal with the Penguins, Robert Bortuzzo added a goal, and Pascal Dupuis had an empty-netter and two assists.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves for Penguins, who were without a handful of regulars - including captain Sidney Crosby, James Neal and Kris Letang - but still had plenty of timely firepower to hand the Hurricanes their club-record eighth straight home loss.
Bennett tied it with 10:11 left by slipping a backhand past Justin Peters, and Malkin scored with 9:58 left by poking the rebound of Jarome Iginla's shot past Peters.
Dupuis scored into an empty net with 1.9 seconds left.
Peters made 28 saves for Carolina, which lost its sixth straight and for the 13th time in 14 games.
These teams have gone in opposite directions since their last meeting - a 4-1 Carolina win at home over the listless-at-the-time Penguins on Feb. 28.
Pittsburgh responded by winning 17 of 19, including a 15-game winning streak that ended last week, to take control of the Eastern Conference.
The Hurricanes, meanwhile, descended into one of the worst slumps in club history - one that has enveloped nearly one-third of the compressed 48-game schedule.
Since taking a 2-0, first period lead against Washington on March 14 - a game they went on to lose 3-2 - the Hurricanes have been outscored 56-21. Carolina has gone from the top of the Southeast Division to near the bottom of the conference.
But some injured players began to trickle back into the lineup: defenseman Justin Faulk was activated from the injured list, and Alexander Semin returned after missing two games with an upper body injury.
Two Carolina defensemen - Sanguinetti and Corvo - scored off first-period faceoffs, with Sanguinetti's slap shot tying it at 2 with 4:27 left. Corvo struck first 4:06 in.
Bortuzzo tied it at 1 just 92 seconds after Corvo's goal when he went backdoor and scored off a pretty cross-ice pass from Pascal Dupuis. Morrow briefly put the Penguins up 2-1 with 6:11 left with his first goal with the Penguins, coming on an impressive effort in the slot.
When Nash scored with 18 minutes left, backhanding a rebound high past Fleury, it was his first goal since he had two against Washington on March 12.
But Bennett and Malkin scored in bang-bang fashion to keep the Penguins surging and the Hurricanes reeling.
NOTES: The Penguins have now beaten every team in the East this season. ... Carolina made room for Faulk by sending D Brett Bellemore to Charlotte of the AHL. ... LW Jussi Jokinen, traded by the Hurricanes to Pittsburgh at the deadline, assisted on Morrow's goal. Another former Carolina player, RW Craig Adams, had two assists.
Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at (at)JoedyAP.