RALEIGH, N.C. – Eric Staal kept his focus after his apparent breakaway goal was waived off early in the third period.
The result was a big victory for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Staal scored for the first time in a month and the Hurricanes beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 on Saturday night.
Staal converted a rebound at 15:26 in the third, smacking it past Brent Johnson to give the Hurricanes a 4-3 lead after they wasted a three-goal advantage. It was Staal’s fourth goal of the season and first since Oct. 18.
He appeared to snap his drought earlier in the period, but the official had a quick whistle and blew the play dead before the puck crossed the goal line.
“You can feel sorry for yourself or you can go out next shift and do your best,” Staal said. “I felt like I did that, and I was I rewarded, which was nice.”
Chad LaRose added a breakaway score with 2:30 left.
Jeff Skinner had a goal and two assists and Tuomo Ruutu had two goals for the Hurricanes, who led 3-0 lead after two periods and snapped a four-game slide. Cam Ward had 37 saves.
Jordan Staal, Eric’s brother, scored two goals and Chris Kunitz added another to help the Penguins rally in the third. Johnson made 21 stops while starting in place of Marc-Andre Fleury.
“We had made one or two mistakes that allowed them to get some goals there in the second period, but we still felt like we had the potential to come back,” Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said.
Ward was particularly sharp in the first two periods, turning aside a flurry of quality opportunities from the Penguins. He stopped Evgeni Malkin on a partial breakaway, Kunitz on a rebound opportunity in front and James Neal on a 2-on-1 with a nice glove save.
“He earned first star tonight,” Bylsma said.
Eric Staal admitted afterward he was motivated by the play of his brother, who sparked the Penguins’ rally by scoring twice early in the third.
The first came on a one-timer in the slot while the second came on a short-handed breakaway. Staal feathered the puck between Ward’s legs and pumped his fist to the delight of the Pittsburgh fans in attendance.
Their roars got louder when Kunitz beat Ward on a wrist shot to tie the score 3-3 with 7:42 remaining.
But Eric Staal prevented another difficult loss for Carolina.
“It’s great to see Eric cash in with that goal,” Ward said. “He’s worked extremely hard. It’s just a matter of time. He’s too good.”
NOTES: Pittsburgh’s Steve Sullivan left the game with a lower-body injury. … Carolina D Joni Pitkanen missed the game with a lower-body injury. He is considered day to day. … Carolina was outscored 18-6 during its losing streak.