Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Jiri Tlusty recorded two goals and an assist as the Carolina Hurricanes came through with a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opener of a home-and-home series.
Nathan Gerbe snapped a 2-2 tie with a power-play score early in the third period that helped the Hurricanes halt a three-game skid and deal the powerful Penguins just their third regulation defeat in their last 16 outings.
Carolina entered the matchup an NHL-worst 2-9-2 on the road this season.
Patrick Dwyer added a goal to support a 20-save effort from Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward.
Pittsburgh, which was outshot by a 35-22 margin, received goals from Kris Letang and Patric Hornqvist. Sidney Crosby assisted on both markers, with Marc-Andre Fleury stopping 31-of-34 chances in defeat.
"We just didn't play well," Crosby said. "(The Hurricanes) work hard. They pressure the puck and they just out-battled us, but they did the right things and we didn't play well at all."
After outplaying the Penguins through two periods but still mired in a 2-2 deadlock, the Hurricanes capitalized on a goaltender interference penalty to Crosby to regain the upper hand.
Elias Lindholm hit Gerbe in the left circle with a pass across the width of the ice, and the diminutive wing fired a shot through Fleury's pads 3:10 into the frame.
The Hurricanes maintained the lead as Pittsburgh barely tested Ward the rest of the way, with Tlusty sealing the outcome on an empty-net goal with 12.4 seconds left.
"We were able to control our gaps and prevent them from getting in the neutral zone and it seemed to (get to) them a little bit," said Ward.
Carolina struck first near the end of an opening period in which they racked up 17 shots, with Tlusty's bad-angle attempt from the left boards caroming off the leg of Pittsburgh's Olli Maatta and trickling by Fleury just under 16 minutes in.
The Penguins answered a mere 43 seconds later, however, when Letang swooped in to poke a rebound of Nick Spaling's wrister into an open left side.
Carolina regained the upper hand early in the second, as a Pittsburgh turnover near center ice led to Dwyer beating Fleury glove-side with 2:54 elapsed in the stanza.
Pittsburgh again had a response, however, as Hornqvist took in a drop pass from Crosby in transition and rocketed the puck by Ward 4:08 prior to the second intermission.
The two teams will square off again Saturday in Raleigh ... Pittsburgh was dealt its first regulation loss at home since a 5-3 setback to Philadelphia on Oct. 22 ... The Hurricanes had been 1-4-2 in their last seven visits to Pittsburgh, which had won five of the last six overall meetings between the clubs ... Crosby now has six assists over the Penguins' last three games ... Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin had a six-game point streak halted ... Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford held the same role for Carolina from 1994 until stepping down in March.