With the type of offensive firepower the Pittsburgh Penguins have, a one-goal deficit can become a one-goal lead in an awful hurry — or, in the case of Thursday night's game, a matter of 32 seconds.
That's all the time it took for the Penguins to score twice and spark a four-goal, third-period comeback in a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes at Mellon Arena.
Sidney Crosby's power-play deflection of Evgeni Malkin's shot allowed Pittsburgh to finally break through 8:15 into the third, and Ruslan Fedotenko followed with his first goal for the Penguins to put them in front for good.
"We kind of wore them down a bit with the pressure we had and finally got some really good chances," Crosby said.
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The outburst, which was completed with a Maxime Talbot score and a Malkin empty-netter, ruined what had been a mostly stellar performance by Hurricanes backup goaltender Michael Leighton, who finished with 31 saves. It also meant 19-year-old Brandon Sutter's first NHL goal came in a losing cause.
The seventh member of the Sutter family to play in the NHL, Brandon, whose father Brent won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Islanders and now coaches the Devils, staked Carolina to a 1-0 lead with 6:53 left in the first period. Leighton stopped 23 shots over the first 40 minutes to make the slim margin hold up, but was helpless on Crosby's goal.
"I didn't really see it. They had a lot of chances and it was just a matter of time," Leighton said. ''We didn't put much pressure on them and force them to do anything. We turned a lot of pucks over.''
Each team had enjoyed only one power play in the game when Hurricanes defenseman Niclas Wallin was sent off for hooking 7:52 into the third. Early in the ensuing advantage for the Penguins, a Dennis Seidenberg turnover in his own end led to Malkin driving a shot that Crosby just got a piece of and redirected past Leighton. Malkin was initially credited with the goal before a video review gave it to Crosby — but either way, the game was tied.
In the blink of an eye, Fedotenko untied it. The free-agent signing who scored 16 goals last season for the Islanders and as many as 26 in a season for the Lightning, registered his first point of the season when he buried a cross-ice pass from Jordan Staal.
"I was trying not to think about it (not previously scoring), so it was nice to get it. I'm not going to lie," Fedotenko said.
Talbot continued the surge and got the Penguins some insurance when he added his first of the season with 8:09 remaining. Malkin's empty-netter with 51 seconds to play gave him a League-leading 13 points for the season (3 goals, 10 assists), while Crosby, who picked up an assist on the goal, moved into second with 11 (2 goals, 9 assists).
"We did what we do — we kept working and working and kept putting pucks on the net," Talbot said. "When you have guys like Sid and Geno (Malkin), you know it's going to go in. It was a pretty intense and pretty good period for us."
Sutter, whose lone point had come on an assist in his NHL debut against Florida on opening night, recorded his first goal in unassisted fashion. He grabbed the puck after Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik whiffed on a pass, skated in from the blue line and slipped a backhander past Marc-Andre Fleury.
"It's nice to get the first one for sure — I had a few chances the first couple of games," Sutter said. "I kind of jumped on it and had a step on him and wanted to get the shot off and not do anything fancy. It was a good feeling."
Fleury, who watched as backup Dany Sabourin made 35 saves in a shootout win over Boston on Monday, returned to the crease and was flawless after Sutter's goal, stopping 24 shots.
"I was trying to make some key saves to keep the team in there," Fleury said.
It was Pittsburgh's third straight victory, while Carolina dropped to 1-1-1 halfway through a six-game road trip.
Material from wire services was used in this report.