RALEIGH, N.C. -- Even for Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, the last two minutes of Saturday night's game seemed like some sort of crazy joke.
"That 8-on-3 was pretty gutsy," said Bylsma, offering only a slight exaggeration of the final moments of Pittsburgh's 3-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center.
When the Penguins took consecutive penalties for too many men on the ice and holding just 22 seconds apart, it left a nightmare scenario in front of Brent Johnson, who had played well all evening. Once the Hurricanes pulled goaltender Cam Ward for a 6-on-3, the ice seemed hopelessly tilted in the Carolina's favor.
But Johnson stopped five shots and blocked a handful of others to preserve the win. Making matters more difficult, an additional Pittsburgh tripping penalty extended the power play all the way to the end of regulation. Richard Park was among the penalty killing heroes, getting a stick on Jussi Jokinen's bid at the left side of the net in one of the more dramatic moments.
"Guys were going down giving up the body," said Johnson, who stopped 30 shots. "It was so nice to see. It's a win I will remember. Heck of an effort by our PK at the end. You don't see 6-on-3s that often."
Bylsma couldn't remember seeing such a finish to a game, and if he has his way, he will never see another.
"I don't remember and I don't want to remember," he said. "I almost took a sigh of relief when I took a look at the clock with seven and a half minutes left, but then it got a little crazy after that."
The Penguins coach had reason to exhale at that point. Third-period goals by Arron Asham and Pascal Dupuis gave Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead. Then Carolina defenseman Jamie McBain, a healthy scratch for his first two games under new coach Kirk Muller, delivered his second goal of the night.
For Johnson, the game provided a little redemption. He was on the losing end of a 5-3 decision on Nov. 12 at the RBC Center.
"I didn't have my best game last time I came in here, so I wanted to make sure I did (play well)," said Johnson. "Also, it was my 300th game so it was pretty key that I got the win tonight."
The teams came out of the gate ready to trade chances, as Carolina held a 12-7 advantage in shots after the first period. The Hurricanes had the better of play, testing Johnson with a half-dozen quality chances. The Pens goaltender turned in his best save when he came from the right post to deny Chad LaRose on the receiving end of a pass in the right circle.
"They were going to the net, shooting, tipping shots," said Johnson. "It's important to face some shots right away. It's better than a first period where you face three shots and two of them are good scoring chances."
Pittsburgh gained a bit of offensive momentum in the second, paying off with a goal by former Hurricane Craig Adams at 8:34. He scored on a bad angle shot along the goal line to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. The play started with Evgeni Malkin barreling down the slot, where he was denied twice by Carolina goaltender Brian Boucher. Sidney Crosby gathered a loose puck in the corner and found Adams open at the left post.
"It feels good just to get one because I don't get that many, but obviously it's extra special scoring it here," said Adams, who won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes. Crosby earned an assist on the goal, which, while an unlikely occurrence, has happened once before. Crosby set up Adams in the 2009 playoffs against Carolina.
Carolina evened the score on a delayed penalty late in the period. Joni Pitkanen made a perfect cross-ice pass to McBain, whose one-timer sailed over Johnson's glove. McBain was playing his first game under new coach Kirk Muller, having been a healthy scratch for the first two games of the new regime.
"It was tough (to sit) because you want to be out there when a new coaching staff comes in and kind of get seen, and get familiar with that they're doing. But the coach came in and told me not to worry about it, that I was going to get my chance," McBain said.
The Hurricanes are still seeking the first win of the Muller era after three home losses in five days. They are 0-5-1 in their last six.
"The plays were there, and we wanted traffic," Muller said of the frantic final seconds as the Canes pressured the Pittsburgh net. “We were an inch away on that one play from tying the game."
Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland suffered a lower-body injury, and will be evaluated once he returns to Pittsburgh, according to Bylsma. Jordan Staal took a puck to the face and did not return, but the Penguins coach did not expect anything more than a laceration.
1 - 0 PIT
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 PIT
3 - 1 PIT