PITTSBURGH (AP) -The Carolina Hurricanes waited all season to play a game like this. That it came against the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, the team that swept them out of the playoffs last spring, almost made it worth the wait.
Manny Legace stopped 30 shots, Ray Whitney had the decisive goal and an assist and the Hurricanes won on the road for the first time this season by holding off the Penguins 3-2 on Monday night.
"It's sad that it's taken so long. What is it, Dec. 7?" Whitney said. "It's something to build on. Certainly we're not sipping champagne by any means, but it's a starting point."
The Hurricanes finally played the way they wanted to during the Eastern Conference finals last spring, when Pittsburgh won the first two at home before finishing the sweep in Raleigh. They opened a 3-0 lead early in the second, held off Pittsburgh's flurry later in that period and never let the Penguins take control in the third, when Pittsburgh hurt itself by taking two penalties.
"It's just nice, especially on the road, to finish the job," Staal said. "It's been a while since we won a road game and it feels good to do it against that team."
Counting the playoffs, Pittsburgh had won its last five against Carolina.
Sidney Crosby and Mike Rupp scored less than a minute apart in the second, but the Penguins couldn't do any other damage against Legace, who turned aside Crosby and Jordan Staal during the final 10 seconds to preserve only the second victory in seven games for Carolina.
Legace is 4-0 in his career against Pittsburgh, which lost its second in a row at home after winning five straight.
"We know they're a dangerous team. I mean, that team went far last year and we know that they've just had a rough start and they're coming back," said Jordan Staal, Eric's younger brother. "And we weren't ready for it."
The Hurricanes, the NHL's worst team with a 7-17-5 record and 19 points, came out with some early jump to seize the 3-0 lead against goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 18 saves.
Alberts skated in from the right circle and, faking a pass, slid a shot along the goal line that Fleury couldn't stop 4:45 into the game for his first goal. Jokinen slipped between two defenders between the hash marks about seven minutes later to beat Fleury under the crossbar for a power play goal created by Evgeni Malkin's holding penalty.
"Really, in the first period, they just wanted it more - they outworked us and that was the difference," Crosby said. "We might have seen that they hadn't won a road game and thought it was going to be easy, and it's a good lesson for us."
Whitney made it 3-0 about 2 1/2 minutes into the second, taking Pitkanen's pass in the left circle and snapping a shot past Fleury for his eighth.
The Penguins, 10-5-1 at home, tried to rally by outshooting Carolina 15-4 in the second.
Crosby, back in the lineup after missing a 2-1 overtime loss to Chicago on Saturday with a sore groin, scored his 20th and eighth in four games at 6:00 of the second. Rupp scored 49 seconds later, but that single flurry represented Pittsburgh's offense for the night.
"Our guys just weathered the storm," Legace said. "You knew it was coming. You know it's going to come three or four times against these guys."
NOTES: Rupp has nine goals, three more than in any of his previous seven NHL seasons. ... Carolina hadn't won away from home during the regular season since beating the Devils 2-1 on March 28, its next-to-last road game of last season. ... Carolina recalled D Brett Carson from its AHL affiliate. He played five games last season.
|Andrew Alberts (1) ASST: Ray Whitney (12), Eric Staal (9)|
1 - 0 CAR
|PPG - Jussi Jokinen (7) ASST: Joni Pitkanen (8), Tim Gleason (6)|
2 - 0 CAR
|Ray Whitney (8) ASST: Joni Pitkanen (9), Eric Staal (10)|
3 - 0 CAR
|Sidney Crosby (20) ASST: Bill Guerin (12), Kris Letang (9)|
3 - 1 CAR
|Mike Rupp (9) ASST: Craig Adams (7), Pascal Dupuis (4)|
3 - 2 CAR
|Evgeni Malkin Holding against Joni Pitkanen|
|Jay McKee Holding against Jussi Jokinen|
|Tim Gleason Fighting (maj) against Bill Guerin|
|Bill Guerin Fighting (maj) against Tim Gleason|
|Tuomo Ruutu Tripping against Mike Rupp|
|Eric Staal Slashing against Sidney Crosby|
|Evgeni Malkin Hi-sticking against Joni Pitkanen|
|Matt Cullen Hooking against Mike Rupp|
|Mark Eaton Hooking against Eric Staal|
|Martin Skoula Holding against Matt Cullen|