Ray Whitney tipped in the game-winning goal - his first of the season - with one-half second left in regulation, giving the defending Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes a 4-3 win over Atlanta and their first victory of 2006-07.
"In the third period we were playing not to make mistakes, not to win," Whitney said. "But we hung in there."
The goal stopped the club's season-opening four-game losing streak (0-3-1) - the longest for the franchise since 1992-93, when they were the Hartford Whalers.
Carolina (1-3-1) jumped out to a three-goal first-period lead and appeared to be in control, but the Thrashers tied the game with Bobby Holik's third-period goal. Whitney then scored for the first time since Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals on June 14.
"It got to my stick and I took a whack at it," Whitney said. "It was a fortunate goal, one this team needed."
He had two goals and eight points in three games against Pittsburgh last season.
Cam Ward stopped 31 shots in the win, but has allowed 12 total goals in his last three starts. The goaltender has a 3.44 goals-against average in four games after posting a 2.14 GAA in 23 playoff contests last season.
Ward is 2-1 with a 3.59 GAA in three games against the Penguins - all of them last season. The Hurricanes may opt to rest him and use backup John Grahame, who is 9-1-1 with a 1.97 GAA in 11 career starts against the Pens.
The Penguins (2-1-0) are coming off their own win in the waning seconds. Sidney Crosby scored the game-winner with 3.3 seconds left in overtime to give Pittsburgh a 6-5 win over the New York Rangers on Thursday.
"I asked our guys to find a way to win," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "It got a little crazy, but we got the last shot and we got the win."
The Penguins appear to be showing improvement this season after opening 2005-06 with nine consecutive losses.
The 19-year-old Crosby tied his career-high of four points in a game Thursday, after being held without one in a 2-0 loss to Detroit last Saturday.
Jordan Staal, 18, and Kristopher Letang, 19, both scored their first NHL goals, marking the first time in 24 years that three teenagers scored for a team in a game.
It last occurred Oct. 17, 1982, when teenagers Dave Andreychuk, Paul Cyr and Phil Housley scored goals for the Buffalo Sabres in a 6-4 win over Edmonton.
Pittsburgh is one of three NHL teams - along with San Jose and Ottawa - which has an average age of less than 27 on its roster.
Saturday's game will be the first time the brothers go head-to-head in an NHL game.
Carolina took three of four meetings in last season's series with the Penguins.