PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – Dustin Jeffrey, Mark Letestu and Pascal Dupuis scored and the Pittsburgh Penguins held off the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Saturday night for their first win without injured stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
The teams played a scoreless first period that resembled more of a chess match than a hockey game.
Both sides were limited in the offensive zone, but the Pens held an 8-6 edge in shots on net after one period of play.
The Penguins received a fortunate bounce in the second period that proved to be a key moment in the game.
Erik Cole moved into the Pittsburgh zone and fired a quick wrist shot at Marc-Andre Fleury.
The puck went off the knob of Fleury’s stick, hit the crossbar and landed in the crease. At first-look, the puck appeared to have gone in. Cole skated to his bench and celebrated with teammates, only to see the official review show the puck never crossed the goal line.
Moments later in a 4-on-4 situation, Jeffrey would make it 1-0.
Kris Letang gathered his own rebound behind the Carolina net. He was hammered to the ice, but stuck with the play and forced Joe Corvo to move the puck quickly up the wall. Brooks Orpik held it in and slid a pass across the blue line to Jeffrey, who let a wrist shot go through traffic that beat Cam Ward.
Early in the second period, Cole took an ill-advised interference penalty that would prove to be costly.
Letang fed Chris Kunitz as he was streaking along the far wall into the Carolina zone. Kunitz saw Letestu wide open in the slot and let him finish off the play with a wrist shot low to the stick side to put the Pens up 2-0.
Carolina had a chance to cut the lead in half with Brooks Orpik in the box for roughing, but the Penguins had other ideas.
Paul Martin forced a turnover in the Penguins’ defensive zone and worked the puck up to Jordan Staal.
Staal chipped the puck to Dupuis, who beat Ward with a backhand shot on a breakaway to give the Pens a 3-0 lead.
Playing a second straight game without their dynamic scoring duo, the Penguins limited Carolina’s chances until Sergei Samsonov and Eric Staal scored over the final 4:25 to make things interesting.
Crosby missed his eighth consecutive game due to a concussion, and Malkin has sat out two because of a sore left knee and a sinus infection.
The Penguins’ 2-0 loss at New Jersey on Thursday was the first game they played without Crosby and Malkin since Malkin entered the NHL in 2006.
Pittsburgh will host the New York Islanders on Tuesday in their final game before the All-Star break.