If the Carolina Hurricanes are going to make a playoff run, they're going to have to do it without their captain and leading scorer.
Already playing without three defenseman, the short-handed Hurricanes scored three power-play goals to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 on Thursday night and move back into first place in the Southeast Division.
Ray Whitney had a goal and two assists for Carolina. Erik Cole and Eric Staal snapped long scoring droughts with goals and Ryan Bayda added his first goal for the depleted Hurricanes, who also lost captain and leading scorer Rod Brind'Amour in the game's opening moments with a torn ligament in his left knee.
"We can't afford to sit back and say, 'Oh well, close was good enough tonight, with the personnel we had,"' Whitney said. "We had to go out and try to get a win."
Whitney, who entered with no goals in his previous 10 games, broke a 2-all tie with 16:15 left when he took a feed from Staal while slipping into the slot and beat Dany Sabourin with a low wrist shot to his glove side.
In other NHL games Thursday night, it was: the New York Islanders 5, Toronto 4; Tampa Bay 5, Philadelphia 3; Chicago 6, Nashville 1; St. Louis 4, Colorado 1; Phoenix 5, Dallas 2; Minnesota 5, Vancouver 4 in a shootout; and Edmonton 3, San Jose 2.
Cam Ward stopped 20 shots for Carolina, which held an overwhelming 46-22 shots advantage in winning its second straight and moving back into the division lead ahead of idle Atlanta and Washington.
Evgeni Malkin scored for the fifth straight game, defenseman Brooks Orpik added his first goal of the season and Sabourin made 42 saves for Atlantic Division-leading Pittsburgh, which dropped its second in a row and fell to 6-4-2 in their 12 games since star center Sidney Crosby sprained his ankle.
Malkin continued his torrid play in Crosby's absence - he has 10 goals and 13 assists since replacing Crosby on Pittsburgh's No. 1 line. His unassisted power-play goal in the second - which clipped off the stick of Carolina's Frantisek Kaberle - put the Penguins up 2-1 and moved him into second in the league with 76 points, two behind Washington's Alex Ovechkin.
The combination of Malkin's recent scoring punch and the holes in Carolina's defense seemed too much to overcome for a Hurricanes team that entered having allowed 186 goals - the second-worst total in the league. Three defensemen were scratched - Tim Gleason and newly acquired Joe Corvo because of the flu and Bret Hedican with a lower-body injury - and three young players were rushed up from Albany of the AHL to replace them.
Then, coach Peter Laviolette had to fill another hole in his lineup when Brind'Amour injured his knee. He collided with Pittsburgh's Nathan Smith and Georges Laraque near the boards at the center line just 1 1/2 minutes into the game and did not return.
"We were put to the test mentally with everything that's going on - the illnesses, we've faced some injuries, but you can't say enough about the kids that came up today," Ward said. "They played like true pros and looked like they've been playing for years. ... They deserved it."
Ruslan Fedotenko scored two of the Islanders' four power-play goals and visiting New York earned its second straight victory.
Mike Comrie and Bryan Berard also had power-play goals while Freddy Meyer added an empty-netter for the Islanders, who moved within four points of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Alex Ponikarovsky, Matt Stajan, Mats Sundin and Darcy Tucker scored for the Leafs.
Martin St. Louis had a goal and two assists to help visiting Tampa Bay hand Philadelphia its fifth straight loss.
Steve Downie, Joffrey Lupul and Jeff Carter each scored for the Flyers, who are on their longest losing streak since a six-game skid in late December.
Jonathan Toews scored a pair of goals and assisted on another and visiting Chicago beat Nashville.
Duncan Keith, Rene Bourque, Cam Barker and Patrick Sharp also scored for the Blackhawks.
Jason Arnott scored for the Predators.
Ryan Johnson scored St. Louis' second short-handed goal of the season and Manny Legace stopped 39 shots, lifting the visiting Blues over Colorado.
Paul Kariya and Jay McClement scored first-period goals for the Blues, who've won two in a row.
David Backes added an empty-net goal with 1:27 remaining.
Ben Guite scored for Colorado.
Radim Vrbata scored a short-handed goal and added two assists to help host Phoenix snap a four-game losing streak.
Shane Doan, Daniel Carcillo, Nick Boynton and Niko Kapanen also scored for Phoenix.
Matt Niskanen and Jussi Jokinen scored for Dallas.
Mikko Koivu scored the winning goal in a shootout and visiting Minnesota recovered from a pair of rare blown leads in the third period.
Ryan Kesler and Alexander Edler scored 16 seconds apart early in the third period to give the Canucks a 3-2 lead. Kurtis Foster tied it on the power play and Marian Gaborik made it 4-3 with a great individual effort 2 1/2 minutes later, but Edler tied it again for the Canucks with 2:44 left to play. Stephane Veilleux scored the other two goals for Minnesota.
Alex Hemsky, Kyle Brodziak and Fernando Pisani each scored a goal and visiting Edmonton defeated San Jose.
Joe Pavelski and Mike Grier scored for San Jose.