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
''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
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.
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.