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Rookies aid Hurricanes' rally over Penguins

by Brian Hunter
The youngsters keep contributing and the Carolina Hurricanes just refuse to go away.

Defenseman Jamie McBain scored his first NHL goal with nine-tenths of a second left in overtime and fellow rookie Justin Peters stopped 15 shots after relieving Manny Legace due to injury as the Hurricanes edged the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on Saturday afternoon at Mellon Arena.

With the final seconds ticking off the clock and the game seemingly headed for a shootout, Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was forced to make a tough save on a Chad LaRose shot. LaRose retrieved the loose puck in the corner and got it out to the point where McBain, playing in just his third NHL game, rifled a shot in for the winner.

"I knew there was less than 5 seconds left, so I just tried to bring it to the middle and kind of shoot it as fast as possible," he said. "Colesey (Erik Cole) was right in front with a great screen. I don't think Fleury saw it, and it found its way through."

Fellow defenseman Joni Pitkanen tied the game with four minutes remaining in the third period. Zach Boychuk, another first-year player getting an opportunity down the stretch, opened the scoring for Carolina, which closed to within six points of Boston for eighth in the Eastern Conference with 11 games to play in the regular season.

Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin had the goals for Pittsburgh, which leads the Atlantic Division by two points over New Jersey. The Devils host the Blues later Saturday and have two games in hand.

"Consistency has been an issue we've talked about," said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, whose team is 2-2-2 over the last half-dozen games. "Challenges as a team, what you're good at and what you need to improve on and areas that you can get better at, and that is an area that we need to get better at."

Legace had stopped all eight shots he faced when he departed 7:32 into the second period with an apparent knee injury. Pittsburgh forward Tyler Kennedy had landed on him moments earlier during a goalmouth scrum.

"That's a backup's job. You have got to make sure you're ready for any opportunity that arises," Peters said. "They didn't have a lot of chances. I was able to feel comfortable in there and hold the fort for the guys."

Peters continued to protect the Hurricanes' 1-0 lead until Staal connected on the power play with 18 seconds left, finishing off an Alexei Ponikarovsky feed. The Penguins took their first lead with 6:55 remaining in the third as Malkin, returning from a two-game injury absence, finished off a give-and-go with Ruslan Fedotenko for his 24th of the season.

"Geno looked good and he skated strong," Fedotenko said. "He was strong on the puck, so I think it was a pretty good game for him."

Pitkanen forced overtime, however, skating into the left circle and putting a slap shot under the crossbar for his sixth goal.

Pitkanen and McBain both drew assists on Boychuk's third career goal, a wrister past Fleury at 6:48 of the first period. McCain has a goal and three assists for a fast start to his NHL career.

"You dream about it happening since you were a little kid and for it to be this kind of game, this kind of atmosphere, going against one of the top teams in the League and an overtime winner with not much time left, it's a pretty special feeling," he said.

Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby absolved Fleury, who made 26 saves, of any blame for the loss.

"He was really solid for us," Crosby said. "Again, it's just a bad break there on the last one. He certainly deserved better."

Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.
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