PITTSBURGH – There wasn’t a second to spare for Jamie McBain to beat Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh with his first NHL goal.
Turns out nine-tenths of a second was all the rookie needed.
McBain’s slap shot from above the circles streaked by goalie Marc-Andre Fleury just ahead of the horn in overtime and the Carolina Hurricanes rallied from a late deficit to defeat the Penguins 3-2 on Saturday, despite losing goalie Manny Legace to an injury.
Seconds after Fleury made what looked to be a potential game-saving stop on Chad LaRose’s wrist shot, McBain – getting two points in his third career game – beat Fleury on a shot that Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said deflected off his hand. Crosby was not hurt.
McBain didn’t know how precious little time was left, and he might have been nervous if he had.
“I knew there was less than five seconds left, so I just tried to bring it to the middle and kind of shoot it as fast as possible,” he said. “Colesey (Erik Cole) was right in front with a great screen. I don’t think Fleury saw it, and it found its way through.”
And the Hurricanes found a way to beat one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams again. They are 11-3-1 since Feb. 5, beating Pittsburgh twice and Washington once in the last 10 days.
Defeating those teams is special, even for a club that remains six points out of the final conference playoff spot. Getting his first goal this way, against this team, was equally exciting for the 22-year-old McBain, a second-round draft pick in 2006 who assisted on Ray Whitney’s game-winning goal in overtime Thursday against the Capitals.
“You dream about it happening since you were a little kid and for it to be this kind of game, this kind of atmosphere, going against one of the top teams in the league and an overtime winner with not much time left, it’s a pretty special feeling,” he said.
Not for the Penguins, who led 2-1 on Evgeni Malkin’s goal on a wrist shot from the left circle with 6:55 remaining but couldn’t hold the lead. Joni Pitkanen tied it at the 16-minute mark with a drive from the left circle off Eric Staal’s long pass from behind the goal-line.
“This was a tough one,” said Fleury, who made 26 saves.
It also was for Legace, who needed several minutes to get back to his feet after being upended by Tyler Kennedy during a second-period scramble in front of the net. Kennedy was called for goaltender interference at 6:43 and Legace, despite initially staying in the game, was lifted with an unspecified lower body injury when play stopped again 49 seconds later.
“That’s a backup’s job. You have got to make sure you’re ready for any opportunity that arises,” said Justin Peters, who replaced Legace and made 15 saves. “They didn’t have a lot of chances. I was able to feel comfortable in there and hold the fort for the guys.”
Pittsburgh tied it 1-all on its third shot against Peters, Jordan Staal’s first power-play goal in 123 games. Staal’s 20th goal of the season came with 18 seconds left in the second period.
The Penguins, trying to strengthen their position for another run at the Stanley Cup, added a point and lead New Jersey by two in the Atlantic Division. The Devils lost 1-0 to St. Louis later Saturday.
“We’ve got to find a way to finish the game and get two points,” Crosby said. “I don’t think we generated as much as we wanted. If we’re doing the right things out there, we’re going to get our shots no matter how teams play against us.”
Pittsburgh was held to four shots in the first period, when Zach Boychuk put Carolina ahead 1-0 at 6:48. McBain and Pitkanen were given assists.
“We didn’t come out the way we should in the first period. We didn’t set the tone,” Penguins forward Ruslan Fedotenko said. “I feel like we definitely need to play better in the first period.”
Notes: Malkin returned after sitting out games in New Jersey and Boston with a bruised right foot. … Pittsburgh, coming off a 2-2-1 road trip, played its only home game in a span of eight games. The Penguins play at Detroit on Monday and Washington on Wednesday. … Carolina went 3-0-1 against Pittsburgh this season. The Hurricanes won 4-3 in overtime in Raleigh on March 11. … Jordan Staal hadn’t scored on the power play since Dec. 18, 2008, in Atlanta. … Alexei Ponikarovsky assisted on both Pittsburgh goals.