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Penguins top Hurricanes on Sutter's late goal

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins lost four consecutive games. Brandon Sutter made sure the slide did not reach five.

Sutter's third-period goal lifted the Penguins to a 2-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday. Sutter placed a wrist shot past Carolina goalie Cam Ward's stick with 1:42 remaining.

It was Sutter's second goal in his past 17 games and his first against his former team.

"It's always fun playing against your old team," Sutter said. "I have some pretty good friends over there, so it's always a fun competition, especially when you can beat them. So, fortunately it went that way tonight, and those ones always feel good."

Pittsburgh (23-9-5) won its first game since a 3-1 win against the Florida Panthers on Dec. 20.

Carolina (10-23-4), which has lost three straight, was outshot 13-12 in the third, but seemed to have the better scoring opportunities through the first half of the period.

Jay McClement had a chance to give Carolina a 2-1 lead after a turnover by Pittsburgh forward Beau Bennett at center ice. McClement took a pass from Chris Terry on a 2-on-1, but he could not get all of a wrist shot that Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was able to absorb in his chest after sliding to his left at 3:08.

Fleury made a sprawling glove save on Elias Lindholm 3:45 later with the Hurricanes on a power play to keep the game tied 1-1.

"We had three [Carolina chances] that we felt we gave up when we didn't have to on turnovers," Johnston said. "Those are the big-time saves that [Fleury] made. I thought both goaltenders were really good. There were some great saves at both ends of the ice."

Fleury made 24 saves to earn his 20th win, tied for second in the NHL behind Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne's 24. Ward was equally impressive, making 37 saves on 39 shots.

Carolina opened the scoring and seemed poised to take a one-goal lead into the first intermission, but Chris Kunitz scored a late goal to end the first period tied.

Bennett dug the puck out of the corner and backhanded a pass to Kunitz at the edge of the right faceoff circle. Kunitz placed a wrist shot over Ward's glove and under the crossbar for his 14th goal, tying the game 1-1 with 21.9 seconds remaining.

Bennett had two assists in his return to the Penguins lineup after missing 16 games because of a knee injury and the mumps. He has five points in eight games this season, 26 in 55 career NHL games.

"It was a good win for the team," Bennett said. "We don't really go through too many slumps during the year. … I thought our line did well tonight and we created a lot. I thought we could've had a couple more."

Eric Staal gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. Lindholm sent a pass to Staal, gliding to his right, as Fleury slid in the opposite direction in the crease. Staal put a wrist shot past Fleury's outstretched glove at 9:12.

"I thought we started better," Staal said. "In the second, obviously we took too many penalties. That one at the end of the first was tough, and I don't think we got back on the attack enough as the game went on."

The Penguins dominated the second period, outshooting the Hurricanes 17-7, but Ward denied each of those 17 opportunities to preserve the 1-1 tie.

Evgeni Malkin had three consecutive shots in a 33-second span, including a slap shot that hit Ward's stick handle, but could not score his second goal in 10 games.

Pittsburgh's power play, which topped the NHL by converting more than 40 percent of its chances earlier this season, had two second-period opportunities, but its recent struggles continued. The Penguins have scored on three of their past 51 power plays after failing to score on three chances against the Hurricanes.

Carolina managed few chances in the second, but could have taken the lead just before the end of the period when Jiri Tlusty had a clear shot on goal with Fleury scrambling in his crease, but the Pittsburgh goalie lunged to make a glove save with 12 seconds remaining.

The Hurricanes' Jordan Staal did not play. Carolina coach Bill Peters said Staal was held out for precautionary reasons after he did not feel well following the morning skate.

The former Pittsburgh center earned an assist on Carolina's lone goal Monday against the Montreal Canadiens, scored by brother Eric Staal, in his season debut.

Peters said if the Hurricanes are to have any success, they must generate more scoring.

"You have to get beyond one (goal), right?" Peters said. "You get a little wiggle room. You have a breakaway when it's 1-1. You have some chances. You have two power plays in the third. You have to get more than one."

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