Penguins 4, Hurricanes 2

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 27, 2011
James Neal had a goal and an assist, and Pittsburgh fired a barrage of shots at Carolina goalie Justin Peters before finally breaking him in a 4-2 victory over the Hurricanes on Tuesday night that stretched the Penguins' winning streak to four games. Neal scored his 21st goal, one behind the NHL leaders. He has scored in every game of the Penguins' winning streak and has 14 goals in 16 home games. Pittsburgh outshot Carolina 52-18, giving Peters a difficult test in his season debut. Peters finished with 48 saves, including 36 on the first 37 shots he faced. Steve Sullivan gave Pittsburgh the lead 1:18 into the third, and Pascal Dupuis scored 70 seconds later for the Penguins, 5-3 since captain Sidney Crosby's latest concussion absence. Jordan Staal added a goal. Tim Brent and Tuomo Ruutu scored for the Hurricanes, who had won consecutive games for only the third time this season before coming to Pittsburgh. Cam Ward, who made 23 saves and was credited with an empty-net goal on Monday in a 4-2 home win against New Jersey, was given the night off. Peters got the starting nod because main backup Brian Boucher has been out since Dec. 3 with an undisclosed lower body injury. Peters stopped all 16 shots he faced in the first period and 20 of 21 in the second. The Penguins didn't score on any of their first 27 shots. Their first goal was scored by Neal, who didn't shoot the puck. Chris Kunitz took two shots, and the second attempt from Peters' left got through the goalie but spun parallel to the goal line in the blue paint. Carolina defenseman Bryan Allen tried to clear the puck out of danger, but whiffed. That sent the puck off the shaft of Neal's stick, then off Allen's backside before trickling into the net. Evgeni Malkin was given an assist, giving him and Neal eight-game point streaks. Pittsburgh scored on its 38th shot 1:18 into the third when Sullivan one-timed a feed from Malkin from above the left circle while on a power play for his seventh of the season. Dupuis' 11th followed soon after, and Staal netted his 14th with 11:55 to play to make it 4-1. Brent's fourth of the season and third point in two games opened the scoring in the first. With 5:07 left, Ruutu scored for the fourth consecutive game, extending his point streak to six games. NOTES: Dan Bylsma won his 135th game as coach of the Penguins, tying him for second on the franchise's career list. ... The game was the 400th for Staal. At 23 years, 108 days, he is the seventh-youngest player to reach that milestone since 1967. ... Neal had 22 goals last season, including just one in 20 games with the Penguins after a February trade from Dallas. ... Carolina earned at least one point in five of six previous games to climb out of last place in the Eastern Conference. ... Malkin has six goals and 12 assists during his streak. He passed Jean Pronovost for ninth place on the Penguins' assist list with 287. ... Neal is the only NHL player this season with two scoring streaks of at least seven games. ... Penguins C Tyler Kennedy had two assists to give him five points in four games.
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