The return of Cory Stillman was good news for Eric Cole.
Stillman, reacquired from Florida on Thursday, played his first game with his old team on Friday and helped Cole celebrate his 600th NHL game with a goal and an assist as the 'Canes beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Friday night.
Cole, who has 5 goals and 10 points in February, and Stillman were key members of Carolina's 2006 Stanley Cup championship.
"Stillman is an intelligent player," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "I think Erik Cole likes the idea of having it on his stick because it lets him get moving a little bit. Erik is playing the best hockey I've seen him play consistently now for a while. He's strong and he's skating and making good decisions. He definitely has a synergy with Cory Stillman."
Jussi Jokinen also had a goal and an assist, while Jay Harrison and Joe Corvo scored the other Carolina goals. Derek Joslin added a pair of assists for his first two points with the Hurricanes, who remained three points in front of ninth-place Buffalo in the East.
Pascal Dupuis scored for Pittsburgh, which lost for the fourth time in six days.
The happy outcome was tempered by the sobering news that captain Eric Staal won't be available for Saturday night's game at Montreal. He left at 18:52 of the second with an upper-body injury after being leveled by Matt Niskanen.
"He won't play (Saturday at Montreal), but we're hopeful he'll play our next game (at home Tuesday against Florida)," Maurice said. "You can't tell (about the hit) from the camera angles. We'll let the League look at that."
Cam Ward stopped 33 shots for Carolina. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped just 8 of 11 shots for Pittsburgh before being lifted midway through the second period.
Stillman's return to Carolina went a lot better than the start of Alex Kovalev's second stint in Pittsburgh. The injury-riddled Penguins brought back Kovalev on Thursday in a deal with Ottawa.
"He's definitely a different player," center Jordan Staal said of the 38-year-old Kovalev, who's still capable of being an offensive force. "He's very talented and sees the ice very well. It's a little different playing with him, but I started feeling more comfortable throughout the game."
Pittsburgh played its 22nd straight game without captain Sidney Crosby, who's sidelined with a concussion.
"We got going in the second period with the power-play opportunities and had a couple of chances," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "(But) Ward came up with the saves, especially at that early part of the second when we were trying to make a push with our power play."
Harrison scored on an assist from Cole 1:44 into the game. Corvo doubled the lead at 16:43 on a one-timer from the left point on a power play. After the Penguins outshot Carolina 10-1 in the first half of the second period without getting the puck past Ward, Cole made it 3-0 at 10:59 of the second, receiving Staal's pass out of the right corner on the left doorstep and tipping it past Fleury, who was then replaced by Brent Johnson.
"Eric's pass there was pretty sick," Cole said. "We had a good reload and a good hold on the line by (Joslin). We made contact probably when I was outside the tops of the circles, and it was just a matter of him kind of waiting for me to find my way to the net. He made a great pass probably through about two sets of skates, right on the tape."
Dupuis spoiled Ward's shutout bid at 15:32 of the second, but Jokinen added an insurance goal with 5:07 left in the third.
"It was important with Staal missing the third to be able to hold the lead and then extend it," Maurice said. "It's an important night when everybody around you wins their games as well. It's a critical game for us."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report