'Canes aim for another win over Pens

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(SportsNetwork.com) - The Carolina Hurricanes shoot for an improbable sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins when the Metropolitan Division rivals meet Saturday at PNC Arena for the finale of a home-and-home series.

Pittsburgh entered Friday's opener 17 points ahead of the Hurricanes in the division standings, but Carolina skated away from the Steel City with a 4-2 victory.

It was Carolina's second straight win over the Penguins after losing the previous five encounters in this series. Carolina also entered the matchup with an NHL-worst 2-9-2 record on the road this season, but added a third road victory with the win.

Jiri Tlusty recorded two goals and an assist to fuel the Hurricanes on Friday and Nathan Gerbe snapped a 2-2 tie with a power-play score early in the third period.

Tlusty had an empty-net tally with 13 seconds left in the third to help Carolina halt a three-game slide and win for just the second time in eight outings.

Patrick Dwyer added a goal to support a 20-save effort from Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward.

"It's a tough challenge playing against the Penguins," Ward said. "They're a very offensive team. And we were able to control our gaps and prevent them from getting in the neutral zone."

Pittsburgh, which enters Saturday tied with the New York Islanders for first place in the Metro, lost for only the third time in regulation over its last 17 games (12-3-2).

The Penguins were outshot by a 35-22 margin on Friday and received goals from Kris Letang and Patric Hornqvist. Sidney Crosby assisted on both markers, while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 31-of-34 chances in defeat.

"We just didn't play well," said Crosby said. "They work hard. They pressure the puck and they just outbattled us, but they did the right things and we didn't play well at all."

Crosby has six assists over the last three games, but Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin had a six-game point streak halted.

Friday's game marked the first encounter between the Penguins and Hurricanes since Jim Rutherford stepped down from his general manager post with Carolina to take the same job in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh still has eight wins in the last 11 meetings with the 'Canes and has claimed three in a row and four of five in North Carolina.

Anton Khudobin will get the start in net for Carolina and is 1-1-0 with a 2.02 goals against average in his career against the Penguins.

Pittsburgh backup Thomas Greiss could get his fifth start of the season on Saturday. He has a loss in his only career games against Carolina.