RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Two of the NHL’s hottest teams clashed Sunday and the Carolina Hurricanes really warmed up at just the right time.
Jordan Staal scored with 6:27 remaining as the Hurricanes rallied past Pittsburgh for a 3-2 victory, snapping the Penguins’ seven-game winning streak.
“I thought we started to build the game,” Staal said. “I thought the third period we kind of took control of the puck. We started to play our style and play in their end a little bit and created some offensive changes.”
Derek Stepan and Brady Skjei both had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes, who stretched their points streak to 11 games (9-0-2) by scoring twice in the final 8½ minutes.
Staal won five of seven third-period face-offs as the Hurricanes, who are amid a grueling stretch on the schedule, refused to wilt.
“We managed to right the ship and kind of get into a good flow,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Proud of the group, they’re tired for sure.”
Goalie Pyotr Kochetkov, a rookie who had Saturday night off but was appearing for the eighth time in nine games, stopped 24 shots. Two of his nine victories this season have come against Pittsburgh.
Rickard Rakell and Brock McGinn scored for the Penguins. Goalie Casey DeSmith made 26 saves.
The Penguins had the longest active winning streak in the NHL. Pittsburgh won every game since a 3-2 overtime loss at home to the Hurricanes on Nov. 29.
“There’s a fine line some nights between winning and losing,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “This is a good team that we’re playing against. We feel like we’re a good team. It was an evenly matched game for the most part.”
While the Hurricanes ended up in an overtime game Saturday night in defeating the Dallas Stars, the Penguins had already practiced earlier in the day in Raleigh. Yet the Hurricanes generated energy late in another game.
“We’ve all been on that side of the schedule,” Sullivan said. “Those are challenging games without a doubt.”
McGinn scored his ninth goal of the season 5:03 into the third period as Pittsburgh took its first lead of the game.
Skjei scored his sixth goal of the season at 8:17 of the period to pull the Hurricanes even.
Stepan had the game’s first goal 3:25 into the second period for his second goal of the season – both coming in a three-game span.
Rakell’s 13th goal of the season came five seconds into a second-period power play.
TAKE YOUR SHOTS
The Hurricanes were playing for the second night in a row and for the third time in four days. They had only seven first-period shots on goal, but eventually got going.
“The more pucks you put on net, good things will come,” Staal said.
Sullivan would like to see the Penguins shooting more frequently, particularly when an opposing defense is keeping them on the perimeter.
“We’ve got to get inside,” he said. “I think one of the best ways to get inside is to shoot the puck a little bit more.”
Staal has scored four goals this month, including two game winners. He played the first six of his 17 seasons with the Penguins. He now has scored five goals in 29 games vs. Pittsburgh.
“I thought he was the best player, maybe in the game, but certainly in the third period,” Brind’Amour said.
The Penguins lost for the first time this season when McGinn, a former Hurricane, has scored. They’re 7-1-1 in those games. … The Hurricanes are 5-0-0 in the second game of games on back-to-back days this season.
Penguins: Host New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
Hurricanes: Host New Jersey on Tuesday night.