The Pittsburgh Penguins relied on one of their biggest strengths - creating and scoring on power plays - to avoid their longest losing streak of the season.
Now the Penguins will face the only team better than them at drawing power-play opportunities when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
Pittsburgh, loser of three in a row to the defending Stanley Cup champions, went 3-for-10 on the power play in a 4-1 victory over Toronto on Friday. The Pens, whose 230 power-play chances this season are second to the Hurricanes' 239, had dropped a season high-tying five in a row.
"We made it a goal to shoot more (on the power play), because when you're shooting, you're creating a lot of scoring chances," said Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar, whose goal and assist came on power plays. "I talked to the coach (Michel Therrien) and that's what we concentrated on. He told me to put the puck on the net more and that's my goal from now on."
The Penguins are 5-for-16 with a manpower advantage in their last two games after going 2-for-35 in their previous four.
"We hadn't played 60 minutes in a long time and that was our focus, take it a period at a time," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "It made a difference because every period we were playing intense and playing physical. And those are fun games to win."
Pittsburgh has gone 2-for-24 on the power play while losing the last three meetings with Carolina, which is 7-1-1 with one tie in the series since the start of the 2003-04 season.
The Hurricanes took the last matchup 6-2 at home Nov. 11. Carolina converted only two of 13 power plays, but killed off all seven of Pittsburgh's.
Carolina won the season series opener 5-1 on Oct. 14 at Mellon Arena.
The Hurricanes have followed a season-high five-game win streak by losing two of their last three. Carolina defeated Anaheim, owners of the NHL's best record, 4-2 on Friday but followed it up by falling 5-2 to Philadelphia - the league's worst team - on Sunday.
The Hurricanes outshot the Flyers 42-19, but Robert Esche made 40 saves.
"It's tough, one of those games," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "You talk about playing the game the right way and hoping the results follow and they didn't.
"We had backdoor opportunities. We had half-empty net chances that we didn't convert. Just a lot of opportunities and it didn't bounce our way."
Cam Ward had allowed two goals or fewer while winning his previous four starts. He'll look to bounce back in the matchup with the Penguins, against whom he is 4-1-0 with a 2.76 goals-against average.
The Pens hope Crosby, the NHL points leader with 17 goals and 41 assists, is back to his productive ways after recording three assists against the Maple Leafs. Crosby, who went scoreless in the previous two games to tie a season high, has been held without a point in his last two games against Carolina.
Eric Staal has five goals and nine assists during a six-game point streak against Pittsburgh. Staal, though, does not have a point in his last three games.
Carolina will host the final meeting of the season with Pittsburgh on March 2.