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Penguins' Jokinen gets hat trick against former team

by Wes Crosby /

PITTSBURGH -- Jussi Jokinen scored a hat trick against his former team to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday at Consol Energy Center.

Jokinen took 1:50 to re-establish the Penguins' lead after Nathan Gerbe scored 3:13 into the third period to tie the game 2-2. Jokinen received a pass from Evgeni Malkin near the left faceoff circle and wristed a shot past Cam Ward to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead with 14:57 to play.

Tanner Glass backhanded a shot past Ward with 11:32 remaining, and Jokinen scored the Penguins' fifth goal with 6:57 left, resulting in an abundance of hats spiraling from the seats and onto the ice.

The Penguins have started the season 3-0-0 for the first time since 1994-95, when they won their first seven games.

Jokinen is playing on a line with Malkin and has replaced James Neal (upper-body injury) on the top power-play unit with Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Paul Martin.

"It's so much fun [to play with Crosby and Malkin]," Jokinen said. "I try to enjoy every moment and I'm working hard in the practices and games, and there's some good chemistry going with our power play and playing with [Malkin] too, we have chemistry and are having lots of fun right now. So it's been good, and hopefully we can go on the road and do the same thing."

Jokinen's first goal was Pittsburgh's first power-play goal of the season.

The Penguins' power play was the one area that struggled during the first two games. That continued early in the first period, when they failed to score on their first power play.

But on their second opportunity of the period, Crosby charged toward Carolina's net with the puck and Jokinen to his left. Crosby sent the puck to Jokinen, who kicked it onto his stick before backhanding it past Ward, giving the Penguins a 1-0 lead with 5:43 left.

"His hockey sense and hockey intelligence is really off the charts," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said of Jokinen. "It leads into the versatility of being in different spots and doing different things. Right off the first shift he hits the post on what could've been another goal for him. Just his intelligence, his smarts, his ability to play with really good players and read off them, it showed in a lot of cases today and against an old team. So, he was excellent."

Jokinen played five seasons for Carolina before he was traded to Pittsburgh last season.

"I'm sure there is [extra motivation for him]," Hurricanes captain Eric Staal said. "There should be for anybody who ends up in a different spot, and I'm sure that motivation's there to do well and he definitely did that tonight. He's an opportunistic player who's in the right spots. He can score and he can produce and he showed that tonight with some good moves."

Olli Maatta, a 19-year-old defenseman who made the Penguins' opening-day roster with Kris Letang out with a leg injury, also impressed by scoring his first two NHL points (both assists).

"You don't really think about it during the game," Maatta said of scoring his first point. "It feels awesome to get that out of the way, and it was always something big I've always dreamed of, putting up points in the NHL. I haven't even thought about playing in the NHL, so it's pretty big."

Pittsburgh seemed to score a second goal 2:24 after Jokinen's first when Crosby slid the puck into the Hurricanes crease from behind the net and Pascal Dupuis whacked the puck past Ward. But the play was reviewed and it was ruled Dupuis kicked the puck into the net.

Pittsburgh maintained its intensity early in the second period and dominated the action on both ends.

Paul Martin collected Brooks Orpik's slap shot off the end boards and backhanded a shot from one knee into Carolina's net to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead 1:04 into the second. It was Martin's first regular-season goal since the Penguins' 2-1 win against the Washington Capitals on March 19.

Carolina didn't record a second-period shot until 9:53 while on a power play. Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner combined for four shots in the next 14 seconds but failed to score.

Eric Staal cut Pittsburgh's lead to one when he dove to his stomach while deflecting Justin Faulk's slap shot into the upper-left corner of Pittsburgh's net with 6:36 remaining in the period.

Carolina outshot Pittsburgh 12-11 in the period but couldn't maintain that level of play in the third. The Penguins outshot the Hurricanes 36-34 overall.

"The first period, we were giving them too much respect I think," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "I think in the first few games, it seems like they have the good first periods and teams sit back. We wanted to push, but we stuck in there in the second period, we got back. I thought in the third, we were in good shape until that third goal. And we just kind of pressed after that."

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