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Penguins 5, Hurricanes 2 @NHL

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -The Pittsburgh Penguins found a simple way to hold on to a lead, for a change: Play a team that's having trouble scoring - no matter who its coach is.

Petr Sykora scored two goals, Sidney Crosby had four assists and the Penguins routed Carolina 5-2 Thursday night to spoil the start of Paul Maurice's second stint coaching the slumping Hurricanes.

Pascal Dupuis scored an early goal and NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin added two assists, even as his league lead over Crosby dwindled to two.

"We owe it to each other to play the right way," Crosby said about Malkin and the scoring race.

One night after blowing a 2-0 lead in a shootout loss to the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers, Pittsburgh led 3-0 less than 2 minutes into the second period and never let Carolina get closer than two goals after that.

"It would have been easy to be frustrated, because we probably deserved better" against the Rangers, Crosby said. "We expected (Carolina) to come out strong with a new coach and everything like that. We knew they'd be motivated. I think it was important to weather the storm."

The Penguins scored five goals on their first 13 shots, including first-period goals by Sykora and Dupuis roughly 1 1/2 minutes apart, and the Hurricanes didn't have the firepower to rally. They have just 11 goals in six games, and have lost five of them.

"We've got to find a way to get pucks in the net and keep them out of ours," Carolina center Matt Cullen said.

Crosby assisted on both of them, giving him points in five straight games, 39 points this season and 16 in 12 career meetings with the Hurricanes. Sykora has 32 points in 36 games against Carolina.

Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko also scored, and Dany Sabourin made 34 saves in helping the Penguins improve to 8-3-2 on the road and snap a four-game losing streak in Raleigh.

"There weren't tons of routine saves," Crosby said, adding that Sabourin "had to come up big many times."

Tuomo Ruutu and Cullen scored for the Hurricanes, who shook up their coaching staff yet wound up with more of the same results.

"We made some - I guess 'glaring' would be the word - mistakes, where you look at it and you may not see that mistake made again," Maurice said.

They fired coach Peter Laviolette a day earlier and replaced him with Maurice, who coached them to a franchise-best 268 wins from 1995 until he was fired in December 2003. They brought Hall of Fame player Ron Francis out of the front office and put him behind the bench as the associate coach.

But they couldn't provide any quick fixes for a team that fell behind 1-0 for the 11th consecutive game and went on to lose its eighth in 12 games and its fourth straight at home. They allowed five goals at home for the fourth time in less than a month.

"It's not about systems or anything like that," Ruutu said. "It's about us trying hard every night and then keeping it simple."

Not even the earlier-than-expected return of right wing Justin Williams - out all season with a torn Achilles' tendon - could jump-start a power play that went scoreless for the seventh straight game.

While Carolina held one of the league's most potent offenses to 22 shots, Michael Leighton stopped just 17 of them. And some quick scoring by Sykora and Dupuis sucked the energy out of the arena.

First, Sykora took a feed in the slot from Crosby on a power play and wristed a rising shot past Leighton. Then, less than 2 minutes later, Pittsburgh made it 2-0 after former Penguin Josef Melichar couldn't handle a puck in the Hurricanes' zone.

"They didn't shoot the puck down, and they turned it over on their blue line, and we came back at them," Sykora said.

Crosby snatched it and skated toward the net before dishing to Dupuis, who beat the besieged Carolina goalie with a wrist shot that gave the Penguins a two-goal lead for good.

"They've got enough firepower on that team that they actually play a pretty defensive game, and then wait for you to make a mistake, because there's a confidence there that you'll make one," Maurice said. "That's the confidence that we'll strive for."

Notes: Sykora's first goal was just the Penguins' fifth on the power play away from Mellon Arena. ... Carolina D Frantisek Kaberle played his 500th career game. ... Leighton started because G Cam Ward was scratched with a groin injury.

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