Gerbe’s PP goal lifts Hurricanes over Penguins
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Road games haven’t been much fun for the Carolina Hurricanes this season. Road games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, one of NHL’s top teams in the league, have also proven difficult.
That wasn’t the case on Friday night.
Nathan Gerbe’s power-play goal broke a third-period tie, helping the Hurricanes to a rare road win, 4-2 over the Penguins.
“We’re striving to get some wins here,” Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward said. “To be able to beat the Penguins in their own building is a huge confidence builder.”
Gerbe scored his third goal of the season at 3:10, and Jiri Tlusty pushed the lead to two in the closing seconds with a power-play tally into an empty net for his 10th goal.
Tlusty also scored in the first period and added an assist on Patrick Dwyer’s second of the season in the second for a three-point game. The Hurricanes had lost six of seven.
“It’s always exciting to play against a high-skilled team like (the Penguins),” Tlusty said. “We’re just trying to build our game, and I think we all bought in.
“Everyone was working hard and not giving them many chances or much space.”
The Hurricanes, who own the NHL’s worst road record (3-9-2), finished their five-game trip with their second win of it. They had lost five of the previous six and eight of 10 against Pittsburgh.
Ward, in his fifth straight start, made 20 saves.
“Winning is fun,” Ward said. “Unfortunately, we haven’t been winning too many hockey games, but to walk away with a win is huge.”
Patric Hornqvist scored his 11th, and Kris Letang had his fourth for the Penguins, who fell short of tying a team record for wins in November.
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby had two assists, extending his point streak against Carolina to 12, but took a goalie interference penalty that led to the winning goal.
“They just outworked us,” Crosby said. “It’s not fun saying that after a game. That’s something that can’t happen. We have to make sure we work harder.”
Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves on his 30th birthday, but took the loss.
Carolina took a 3-2 lead when Gerbe received a cross-ice pass from Elias Lindholm and beat a standing Fleury with an under-the-crossbar wrist shot.
Pittsburgh pushed for the tie with Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the same line, but was forced to kill two penalties in the final five minutes.
“I thought Carolina had more energy than us, for sure,” Penguins’ coach Mike Johnston said. “I give them credit for how they played with their speed and their quickness. We certainly weren’t on our game.”
The teams began a home-and-home set that will conclude on Saturday when Carolina returns home.
“We know they’re probably going to be much better,” Ward said. “We have to be ready for it.”
Ward was ready early, making a highlight-reel save to help the Hurricanes build momentum. Ward was beaten to the backhand, but recovered to make a diving desperation stick stop on Blake Comeau, who had a hat trick against Toronto on Wednesday.
“I didn’t quite realize he was by himself,” Ward said. “He showed some good patience and had me sliding.
“It’s just one of those things where you work your hand-eye coordination and throw the paddle up. I was fortunate to get a little lucky.”
The Hurricanes, who rank near the bottom of the NHL in first-period goal differential, built off the early momentum, outshooting Pittsburgh 17-9 in the frame and scoring the opening goal.
Tlusty netted his first of the night at 15:47, throwing a shot from the left-wing boards that hit the skate of defenseman Olli Maatta and deflected over Fleury’s shoulder.
Letang tied it 43 seconds later when he pinched from the left point to tap the rebound of Nick Spaling’s shot into a partially empty net.
Dwyer got it back at 2:54 of the second period when he unleashed a wrist shot over Fleury’s shoulder.
Hornqvist pulled the Penguins even at 2 at 15:52, taking a drop pass from Crosby and firing a wrist shot over Ward’s shoulder.
But that was all Pittsburgh could manage as Carolina scored the final two goals in the third.
“The Penguins are an offensive team, but we were able to control our gaps and prevent them from getting some speed in the neutral zone,” Ward said. “It seemed to frustrate them a little bit.”
NOTES: Penguins C Marcel Goc (right leg) left in the first period after blocking a shot. ... Crosby tied Bob Errey for the ninth-most games played in Penguins history. ... Pittsburgh and Carolina will meet twice more this season after Saturday’s matchup. ... The Penguins scratched RW Beau Bennett and D Robert Bortuzzo. LW Zach Boychuk, C Brad Malone, and LW Chris Terry sat out for Carolina.