Maybe the Pittsburgh Penguins are developing a "road-ice advantage."
The Penguins improved to 5-0 away from Mellon Arena for the first time in franchise history when Chris Kunitz scored in the sixth round of the shootout to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night.
"It's really important just to establish the way we want to play," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said of the 5-0 road mark. "Early on in the season, you're trying to work things out and adjust, and for the most part, everyone knows what they need to do here. It's nice that we're seeing some results here early."
The win completed a 4-0 trip for the Penguins (6-1-0), who also won their road opener against the Islanders on Oct. 3. They head home for their next five games.
"We were 4-0 on this road trip," said forward Michael Rupp, who scored Pittsburgh's first goal, "but the reality of it was we weren't perfect by any stretch."
Evgeni Malkin set up Rupp's first-period goal and scored in the second to put the Penguins ahead 2-0. But Ray Whitney rallied the Hurricanes with a pair of third-period goals, including the tying goal on a deflection midway through the period.
"We were playing well. It was a mistake and a little bit of puck management that allowed them to get back in the game but I think the general feeling is that we are playing well, we are doing good things, we are playing the right way," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
Carolina's Jussi Jokinen and Crosby both scored in the second round of the shootout. After Marc-Andre Fleury stopped the next four Carolina shooters and Carolina's Cam Ward made three saves, Kunitz won it by snapping a low shot past Ward."When your number's called," said Kunitz, who has yet to score in regulation, "you try to go up and make a good move and put the puck on the net."
For the Hurricanes, it was a case of the glass half-full -- they got a point in a game they trailed by two entering the third period.
"It's a game to build on," Whitney said. "Having to come from behind like we did against the defending Stanley Cup champions is a tribute to our hockey club. We didn’t change the way we played and it finally paid off in the third period. Again, I have to tip my hat to Cam Ward. His efforts are the real reason we got a point tonight."
Still, the 'Canes have lost four times in their first six games and begin a road trip Saturday night in New Jersey. Coach Paul Maurice said his team has a lot of work to do.
"We haven't generated much offense on the puck, our cycle game is off and our forecheck game is off as well, and that is our entity of the game that we need to get to," Maurice said.
It was the teams' first meeting since Pittsburgh's sweep in the Eastern Conference Finals last spring.
Malkin, who tortured the 'Canes with six goals in the Eastern Finals, made a perfect chip pass to set up Rupp's opening goal at 14:24 of the opening period. Malkin caught Niklas Wallin pinching at the left point and chipped the puck past him to Rupp, who was breaking up right wing. Rupp went down on a 2-on-1 break, cut toward the net and roofed a backhander over Ward's shoulder.
Ward wasn't at his best on Malkin's goal at 4:27 of the second period that made it 2-0. Malkin was wide of the dot in the right circle when he fired a wrist shot that beat Ward over the shoulder on the short side.
"Early on in the season, you're trying to work things out and adjust, and for the most part, everyone knows what they need to do here. It's nice that we're seeing some results here early."
-- Sidney Crosby
Whitney finally got Carolina on the board at 4:25 of the third period when he came down the slot and took a quick slap at Tuomo Ruutu's pass from the right wing. The puck zipped through defenseman Kris Letang's legs and past Fleury, who might not have expected the shot. It was Whitney's 100th goal as a member of the Hurricanes.
"One hundred good ones, too," Whitney said. "It has just been a good fit from day one. With the attitude this team had coming out of the lockout and playing an offensive game it certainly fit my style. It's also a tribute to guys I’ve played with like Staal, Rod Brind’Amour and (Matt) Cullen."
Ward, who was outplayed by Fleury through the first two periods, kept the margin at one goals about a minute later when he made a highlight-reel glove save on Bill Guerin's quick one-timer from just outside the crease. Video replay upheld the call.
The save became more important when Whitney set up in the slot about 10 feet in front of the net and redirected Tim Gleason's wrister from the left point behind Fleury at 10:04.
The 'Canes continued to dominate play after the tying goal, forcing Fleury to make an excellent stop on Eric Staal a couple of minutes later and drawing a power play when Rupp was called for hooking at 13:04. The Penguins killed that penalty but were unable to capitalize on a power-play of their own when Aaron Ward was called for high-sticking Letang at 16:19.
Ward used his glove again to rob Malkin 38 seconds into overtime, snatching Malkin's wide-open snap shot from the slot out of the air. He also robbed Malkin on a tip with less than a minute to play and got in front of a backhander by Kunitz as the Penguins carried the play throughout the extra five minutes, outshooting Carolina 4-1.
"It went right down to the end and I needed to come up with some of those saves," Ward said. "Our team was playing well and I wasn't happy with the second goal they scored, it shouldn’t have gone in, so when we had a chance I needed to come up big. It’s a big point. It’s a good comeback for us."
--John Kreiser, NHL.com
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report