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James Neal scores 1:03 into OT to lift Penguins past Hurricanes 4-3

Friday, 12.27.2013 / 9:55 PM / News

The Canadian Press

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James Neal scores 1:03 into OT to lift Penguins past Hurricanes 4-3

RALEIGH, N.C. - James Neal scored at 1:03 of overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 on Friday night.

NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby had a goal, and Chris Conner and Deryk Engelland each scored in the third period to help the Eastern Conference leaders win their 13th in 15 games.

Neal, who also had two assists, ended it by beating Justin Peters with a wrist shot off a pretty give-and-go from Jussi Jokinen — the former Carolina forward's third assist.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 31 shots in his 500th career game for the Penguins.

Drayson Bowman scored with 2:29 left in regulation. Nathan Gerbe had a goal and an assist, and Andrej Sekera scored for the Hurricanes.

They let a third-period lead slip away for the second straight game. The Hurricanes also lost their seventh in eight games with four coming in overtime.

Peters, Carolina's backup, finished with 22 saves.

Engelland — who was playing in his first game since serving a five-game suspension for a check to the head of Detroit's Justin Abdelkader — put a hard shot past Peters with 6:45 left to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead. But Bowman forced overtime when he slipped his late wraparound past Fleury.

Engelland was one of a few Penguins making their return to the ice. They also got defenceman Brooks Orpik and forward Tanner Glass back from injuries. Orpik missed eight games with a concussion while Glass was out for the past month with a broken hand.

The Penguins tied it at 2 at 1:58 of the third period when Conner slipped a backhand past Peters.

That came after Carolina built a 2-1 lead following a wild end to the first period and start to the second.

Sekera scored the game's first goal in the final moments of the first period, beating both Fleury and the buzzer with a high backhand that was upheld by a brief review that determined that there were 1.3 seconds left.

That came about a minute after the Penguins had a goal disallowed because the whistle blew before the puck crossed the line during a pile-up in front of Peters and defenceman Ron Hainsey.

Crosby then tied it 16 seconds into the second when he slipped a backhand past Peters for his NHL-best 55th point. But the tie didn't last long — Gerbe put Carolina back up 14 seconds later by converting on Alexander Semin's hard shot.

NOTES: Penguins C Evgeni Malkin (lower-body injury) missed his sixth straight game, though he did take part in the team's morning skate. ... The Hurricanes activated G Anton Khudobin from injured reserve and assigned him to their AHL affiliate in Charlotte, and placed D Jay Harrison on IR with a concussion. ... Pittsburgh RW Pascal Dupuis will have surgery on his right anterior cruciate ligament and could miss the season, coach Dan Bylsma said before the game.

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Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap

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