The Carolina Hurricanes kept Sidney Crosby largely in check during regulation and overtime on Friday night. The shootout was another matter.
The reigning NHL scoring champ had a pair of assists in regulation, then scored the deciding goal to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 victory. Crosby went backhand-to-forehand and beat Cam Ward to cap a 3-for-3 performance by Pittsburgh shooters. Backup goalie Dany Sabourin, making his first start of the season in place of Marc-Andre Fleury, then made the only save of the shootout, gloving Ray Whitney’s wrist shot for the win.
“I stopped the third one, and that’s all that matters,” Sabourin said.
Before that, Pittsburgh’s Eric Christensen and Petr Sykora had scored in the shootout for Pittsburgh, while Matt Cullen and Jeff Hamilton scored for Carolina. Crosby went to school on Christensen’s attempt, in which he easily beat Ward.
“I watched (Christensen’s) move all the way, just took a page out of his book a bit,” Crosby said. “You've got to just trust your move and hope it works.”
Sabourin finished with 29 saves, rebounding after Whitney scored a power-play goal 59 seconds into the game to earn his first victory in two stints with the Penguins.
“I felt more confident as the game went on,” he said. “It was huge for me to show the team what I can do.”
After Carolina took the early lead, Sykora tied the game at 1-1 with 1:02 left in the period when he stuffed the rebound of Crosby’s wraparound behind Ward for his 250th career goal.
“250 is a lot of goals in this league,” an admiring Crosby said.
Trevor Letowski’s rebound goal after a scramble early in the second period put Carolina back in front, and Jason Williams made it 3-1 with 4:40 left in the period when he split the defense and beat Sabourin to the stick side.
The Hurricanes looked like they were headed for their fourth straight victory, but seemed to lose some momentum when forward Scott Walker left the ice with 2:34 to play in the second period and was taken to the hospital with what was described as a torso injury. He had been shaken up in a first-period collision with Pittsburgh’s Jarkko Ruutu,
While skating to the bench during a stoppage in play, Walker fell to his knees. A stretcher was brought out and play was delayed for several minutes, but Walker ultimately skated off slowly with the aid of team personnel.
“Obviously after (the injury), I don't know what happened,” Carolina defenseman Glen Wesley said. “It was bang-bang, but we can't use that as an excuse.”
The Penguins quickly rallied to tie the score. Adam Hall banged in Ruutu’s rebound with 2:06 left in the period to cut the deficit to 3-2, and Sykora got his second of the night by chipping in a rebound with 5.1 seconds left to pull the Penguins even.
''They scored and got some momentum right away,'' Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said.
Walker’s injury continued Carolina’s history of bad things happening to the Hurricanes in Mellon Arena. On March 4, 2006, forward Erik Cole fractured a vertebra in his neck after a check from Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, and Letowski suffered a concussion there last season. Walker's injury apparently was not as serious. He was said to have been released from the hospital and joined the team for its postgame flight to Philadelphia.
''Who knows how to explain that?'' Cole said of the multiple Hurricanes injures at Mellon Arena.
''Those are things you can't really control. I just hope Walks is O.K.” Crosby was pleased with the way his team came back from the two-goal deficit.
“We didn’t give up,” he said. “We were lucky enough to turn things around. You don’t want to give a team like this a lot of chances. The main thing is to be able to respond.”
Material from wire services was used in this report.