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PITTSBURGH – Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary scored power-play goals, Scott Wilson picked up his eight of the season and the Pittsburgh Penguins held off the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Sunday.
Matt Murray finished with 33 saves for the Penguins, who moved into second-place in the Metropolitan Division with a week to go in the regular season.
Jeff Skinner collected his 33rd goal of the season for Carolina and Justin Faulk's 17th of the year halfway through the third period gave the Hurricanes momentum but Pittsburgh tightened up in front of Murray to beat Carolina for the seventh straight time.
Eddie Lack made 23 stops for the Hurricanes in his first start since being taken to the hospital with a strained neck last week. The loss inched Carolina closer to missing the playoffs for an eighth consecutive season.
The Penguins have been one of the NHL's best teams at home this season but came in riding a 0-2-1 skid at PPG Paints Arena, including a lopsided loss to Chicago last Wednesday. The mini-slump has dimmed the defending Stanley Cup champions' chances of catching first-place Washington for the top spot in the Metropolitan though Pittsburgh's biggest concern as April opens is the ever expanding list of injuries to bold-faced names on the roster.
Veteran forward Chris Kunitz joined Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Trevor Daley, Olli Maatta and a handful of others out of the lineup on Sunday with a lower-body injury coach Mike Sullivan indicated was "longer term," hinting that the two-time Cup winner might not be available when the opening round of the postseason begins in 10 days.
The Penguins have managed to hang around the top of the NHL's toughest division anyway thanks in large part to its youthful depth, a strength on full display again against the Hurricanes.
Guentzel, a 22-year-old, rookie, took a cross-ice feed from Chad Ruhwedel and slipped it by Lack 11:28 into the first to give the Penguins the lead. Skinner tied it less than two minutes later, though Elias Lindholm did all the work, firing it at Murray then smacking the rebound while flopping on his belly. The puck was heading into the net anyway, but Skinner made sure when he redirected it at the goal line.
No matter. Wilson put the Penguins up to stay when he kept jabbing at a loose puck in the crease until it slipped by Lack 7:50 into the second.
The 24-year-old Sheary made it 3-1 5:07 into the third with an easy power-play goal after Patric Hornqvist found him all alone in the right circle.
Faulk drew Carolina within one when his shot from the point smacked off the glass behind the Pittsburgh net, hit Murray in the back then bounced into the goal.
Unlike Friday night, when the Penguins let a late lead get away before edging the Rangers in overtime, they held on behind Murray.
NOTES: The Penguins went 2 for 2 on the power play. The Hurricanes were 1 for 2. ... Pittsburgh outscored Carolina 16-6 in four meetings this season. ... Former Carolina D Ron Hainsey played 22:56 in his first game against the Hurricanes since being traded to the Penguins in February. ... Murray's 30 victories are the most by a rookie goaltender in team history. .. Carolina D Ryan Murphy missed his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury.
Carolina: Visit Minnesota on Tuesday.
Pittsburgh: Hosts Columbus on Tuesday in final regular season home game.