PITTSBURGH - Carolina was cruising. Then Scott Walker got hurt, and everything went downhill in a hurry.
Walker left the ice and was taken to a hospital because of a torso injury in the second period. The team said he was OK, but the Hurricanes melted down after that, allowing two goals in 2?? minutes and eventually losing 4-3 in a shootout to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.
"Obviously after (the injury), I don't know what happened," Carolina defenceman Glen Wesley said. "It was bang-bang, but we can't use that as an excuse."
Walker left the ice with 2:34 to play in the second period with a torso injury, and Adam Hall and Petr Sykora scored before the end of the period to tie the game.
In the shootout, Sidney Crosby had the decisive goal for Pittsburgh, ending Carolina's three-game winning streak.
Justin Williams had a goal and an assist and Rod Brind'Amour two assists for the Hurricanes, who were playing the fifth game of a six-game road trip.
Sykora had two goals in regulation and Crosby had two assists for Pittsburgh, which took part in a shootout for the first time this season.
All three Penguins shooters scored in the shootout against goalie Cam Ward. Erik Christensen went from his backhand to his forehand to score the first goal. After Sykora scored the second, Crosby also went backhand-to-forehand.
"I watched (Christensen's) move all the way, just took a page out of his book a bit," Crosby said. "You've got to just trust your move and hope it works."
After Crosby's goal, Pittsburgh goalie Dany Sabourin made the first save of the shootout, using his glove on Ray Whitney's wrist shot to seal the victory.
Matt Cullen and Jeff Hamilton scored for Carolina in the shootout.
"That was a great feeling, first win on a glove save," said Sabourin, the Penguins backup who played a complete game for the first time this season. "Our guys had three good moves against Ward."
On March 4, 2006, in Pittsburgh, Carolina winger Erik Cole fractured a vertebra in his neck after a check from Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik. Walker's injury apparently was not as serious. He was said to have been released from the hospital and joined the team for the postgame flight to Philadelphia.
"Who knows how to explain that?" Cole said of the multiple Hurricanes injures at Mellon Arena. "Those are things you can't really control. I just hope Walks is OK."
While skating to the bench during a stoppage in play, Walker fell to his knees. A stretcher was brought out and play was delayed for several minutes, but Walker ultimately skated off slowly with the aid of team personnel. He was taken to the hospital for evaluation.
After Whitney gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead 59 seconds into the game, Sykora scored the 250th goal of his career off a rebound of a Crosby wraparound with 1:02 left in the first period.
"Tonight I just went to the net and got a couple rebounds," Sykora said.
The Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead when they peppered Sabourin with four shots before Trevor Letowski fired the puck into the net past a sprawling Sabourin four minutes into the second period.
Williams made it 3-1 with an unassisted goal with 4:40 remaining in the second. Williams gained control of the puck at the Hurricanes' blue line and used Pittsburgh defenceman Rob Scuderi as a screen as he wristed a shot past Sabourin.
Behind a defence that ranked fourth in the NHL in goals-against average heading into the contest, Carolina appeared to be cruising to their fourth consecutive victory on the road trip.
But after Walker left the ice, Pittsburgh scored twice in the ensuing 2:28 to tie the game.
"They scored and got some momentum right away," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said.
Hall scored his first goal as a Penguin with 2:06 to play in the second period on assists from Ruutu and Maxime Talbot. Sykora scored his fourth of the season and second of the game while on a two-man advantage with 5.1 seconds to play in the period. Crosby earned an assist on the play and has a five-game point streak.
"It was a character win; there's no doubt," Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said.
Notes: The Penguins have scored the first goal of a game only twice so far this season. ... Williams' assist was his 100th as a Hurricane. ... C Matt Cullen, Brind'Amour and Williams each have four-game point streaks for Carolina. ... Pittsburgh entered the game with the league's best power play at home but went only 1 for 7 with the man advantage.