Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Saturday, November 9th
Game 2: Wednesday, January 15th
Game 3: Thursday, March 6th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 2nd

Hurricanes 4

(19-34-6, 53 pts)

Penguins 0

(25-34-5, 59 pts)

7:30 PM ET, March 6, 2003

Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1 2 3 T
CAR 1 2 14
PIT 0 0 00

J. O'Neill (Hurricanes - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

C. Adams (Hurricanes - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

K. Weekes (Hurricanes - G): Saves: 21, Save Pct.: 1.000

Carolina ends slump as Pens go deeper into funk

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- And the Pittsburgh Penguins thought bankruptcy was bad.

Jeff O'Neill scored Carolina's first two goals and the Hurricanes ended a two-month road winless streak by beating the reeling Penguins 4-0 Thursday night.

The Hurricanes came into the game with an NHL-low 51 points, but had an easy time with a team that has tumbled into the league's bottom five even with Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux in the lineup.

The Penguins lost their seventh consecutive, and fourth in a row at home, during a streak that is beginning to resemble their 10-game winless run that ended last season.

Carolina was 0-11-2-2 on the road since a 4-2 victory at Boston on Jan. 4 and had lost five in a row overall. The Hurricanes, Stanley Cup finalists a year ago, had won only three times since Dec. 22 and scored only five goals in their previous five games.

''They're as beat up as we are. I don't think ESPN Classic is calling for the video,'' Carolina coach Paul Maurice said.

Lemieux began the night tied with Vancouver's Markus Naslund for the NHL scoring lead with 85 points, but was held scoreless for the second consecutive game and the third time in five games. The Penguins have scored only three goals in their last five games -- two by Lemieux.

''The confidence isn't there for us right now,'' Lemieux said. ''It's tough to play the game when you don't have confidence. I've been there -- and it can be tough.''

The Hurricanes are enduring an equally tough season a year after they were three victories away from winning the Stanley Cup, but Carolina's Ron Francis can empathize with what's going on with his former team and his close friend.

''They're playing in the oldest building in the league, and they had to make a move (by trading star) Alexei Kovalev -- it's tough to make do like that,'' said Francis, who won two Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh. ''I'm pulling for Mario ... and I want it (the franchise) to be successful.''

It got so bad for Pittsburgh shortly after Kevyn Adams' seventh goal made it 4-0, the Hurricanes spent nearly the entire second half of the third period on a nine-minute power play resulting from Ville Nieminen's four-minute instigating penalty and five-minute fighting major.

The Hurricanes had a two-man advantage for the first two minutes of the lengthy power play as Steve McKenna also was sent off for instigating and fighting, but they did not score.

Penguins coach Rick Kehoe, an NHL player, coach and scout since the 1970s, couldn't remember seeing so much continuous penalty time on the scoreboard for one player.

''I don't see how you can have two instigators and one fight,'' Kehoe said. ''I've seen seven minutes before, but not that many. And I've never seen that (many minutes) for that.''

O'Neill gave the Hurricanes the only goals they needed, taking advantage of Richard Lintner's giveaway on an intended clearing pass to score at 2:34 of the first. The pass deflected off Francis' skate directly to O'Neill, who wristed it into an open net as goalie Sebastien Caron couldn't scramble back in time to defend.

Francis needs four more points to match Gordie Howe's record of scoring at least 50 points in 22 seasons.

O'Neill scored his 26th goal, this time on a power play, in the second before Bruno St. Jacques scored his first NHL goal on a shot that deflected off defenseman Hans Jonsson's hip.

Carolina goalie Kevin Weekes was barely tested in getting his third shutout of the season and 21st of his career, turning aside 21 mostly harmless shots. Pittsburgh managed only two shots in the first period and five in the third.

Game notes

Penguins forward Mikael Samuelsson will be out seven to 10 days because of a sore knee. ... The Penguins had a 10-game losing streak earlier in the season. ... Pittsburgh is 4-12 since the All-Star break. ... The Penguins gave away Kovalev bobblehead dolls, despite trading him to the Rangers last month. The team didn't want to disappoint fans who bought tickets in anticipation of getting the souvenirs.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press