The Pittsburgh Penguins saw a hit they considered dangerous and stopped. Carolina didn’t. And when the whistle didn’t blow, the Hurricanes took advantage by starting their six-game road trip with a bang.
Brett Pesce scored at the end of a two-on-none 2:20 into overtime to lift Carolina over Pittsburgh 3-2 Tuesday night courtesy of an ending that will likely be remembered when the Metropolitan Division rivals meet again in Raleigh on Dec. 18 and maybe beyond.
The puck was along the boards when Carolina center Seth Jarvis hit Penguins forward Bryan Rust in the back in front of the Pittsburgh bench. The Penguins briefly paused while the puck squirted free, giving Pesce and Andrei Svechnikov time to skate in alone on Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry.
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Pesce dished to Svechnikov, who gave the puck back to Pesce in time for him to stuff it past Jarry.
“(Pesce’s) a great player for us,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “It’s good to see him get that. Good play by Svech on the wall, to give it to him. Nice finish. Definitely take the win.”
The Penguins saw it differently. Head coach Mike Sullivan called Jarvis’ play “a dangerous hit” and didn’t blame his players for what he considered a natural reaction.
Rust, who was shaken in the moment but not injured, quietly fumed in an angry Pittsburgh dressing room.
“The whole play was fairly bizarre,” Rust said. “The whole game was bizarre, some things that weren’t called.”
The Penguins forced the extra period on Jake Guentzel’s deflection with 58 seconds to go in regulation with Jarry on the bench for an extra skater. The momentum, however, evaporated in overtime and the Hurricanes took advantage when officials let the teams play on following Jarvis’ hit.
Svechnikov and Marine Necas also scored for Carolina. Pytor Kochetkov stopped 30 shots as the Hurricanes won their second straight following a five-game losing streak.
“It’s always nice to start the road trip like this for the win and try to build on this,” Sebastian Aho said.
Guentzel and Sidney Crosby scored for Pittsburgh. Jarry stopped 36 shots but was left all alone on the sequence that ended with Pesce’s winner. The Penguins played without top defenseman Kris Letang, scratched just before puck drop due to illness.
Pittsburgh has lost two straight — both at home — following a 7-1-1 stretch that helped the team snap out of an early funk.
The Penguins began the night one point behind the third-place Hurricanes in what figures to be a tight race in the Metropolitan Division behind early season surprise New Jersey.
Crosby gave Pittsburgh the lead 4:34 into the first period, finishing off a pretty sequence that began with a stretch pass by defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph to Guentzel at the Carolina blue line. Guentzel fed a streaking Crosby, who tapped the puck from his right skate to his stick before jamming a shot past Kochetkov.
The goal was Crosby’s 25th point at even strength this season, tops in the NHL.
Carolina responded by turning up the pressure. Necas and Svechnikov scored in the second, with Svechnikov’s wraparound at 17:38 coming after a sequence that typified Pittsburgh’s issues on the power play.
The Penguins, for all their star power, entered Tuesday 28th in the league with the man advantage. They failed to generate a single shot on a power play just before Svechnikov’s goal, with Jeff Carter whiffing despite being wide open in the slot. The puck caromed out of the zone and shortly thereafter the Hurricanes were in front.
The Penguins have failed to score on their last 14 power plays overall.
“We’re a step off right now,” Rust said. “We’ve got to find it and we’ve got to find it quick.”
Hurricanes: Head to St. Louis on Thursday, the next stop on their longest trip of the season.
Penguins: Continue a five-game homestand Thursday against Vegas.
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