Carolina outscored Pittsburgh 11-3 in winning the first two games of the four-game season series, but got nothing past Fleury in his second shutout of the season and fourth of his career. He made 31 saves.
The Hurricanes were playing their first game in 2007, but already have as many losses as they did last January, when they went 13-1 to seize control of the Eastern Conference lead before going on to win the Stanley Cup.
Carolina was one of the few teams Crosby hadn’t had much success against in his two-season career, getting four points in his first six games against the Hurricanes, but that changed in a hurry.
Crosby gave the Penguins the lead – something they have rarely had against Carolina in recent seasons – by scoring on a break from the Penguins’ end after Evgeni Malkin stole the puck about 5½ minutes into the game.
With Pittsburgh on a power play early in the third, Crosby made a no-look pass up ice to Mark Recchi, who feed the puck to Ryan Whitney at the side of the net for his sixth goal. The puck deflected off Whitney and past goalie Cam Ward without hitting Whitney’s stick.
Crosby scored again midway through the period, skating through three Hurricanes players with a succession of moves before attempting to pass to Recchi. The puck deflected back to Crosby, who put it in for his 19th goal and 61st point of the season.
Crosby has 61 points in 38 games; a season ago, he didn’t get the 60th point of his 102-point rookie season until Feb. 4.
Carolina had been 7-1-1 against the Penguins since the 2003-04 season and hadn’t lost in Pittsburgh in three games since March 19, 2004.
At least the Hurricanes avoided a bad injury – something they didn’t do in their previous two trips to Pittsburgh. Star forward Erik Cole broke his neck while being rammed into the boards by defenceman Brooks Orpik on March 4 and didn’t return until late in the Stanley Cup finals. Forward Trevor Letowski missed nine games this season with a concussion and other injuries after being leveled by a blind-side hit by Colby Armstrong on Oct. 14.
Fleury’s other shutout this season came in a 4-0 victory over Philadelphia in the Oct. 5 season opener.