RALEIGH, N.C. – Petr Sykora scored two goals, Sidney Crosby had four assists and the Pittsburgh Penguins routed Carolina 5-2 Thursday night to spoil the start of Paul Maurice’s second stint coaching the slumping Hurricanes.
Pascal Dupuis scored an early goal and NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin added two assists, even as his NHL lead over Crosby dwindled to two.
One night after blowing a 2-0 lead in a shootout loss to the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh led 3-0 less than two minutes into the second period and never let Carolina get closer than two goals after that. The Penguins scored five goals on their first 13 shots, including first-period goals by Sykora and Dupuis roughly 1 1/2 minutes apart.
Crosby assisted on both of them, giving him 39 points this season and 16 career points in 12 meetings with the Hurricanes. Sykora has 32 points in 36 games against Carolina.
Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko also scored, and Dany Sabourin made 34 saves in helping the Penguins improve to 8-3-2 on the road and snap a four-game losing streak in Raleigh.
Tuomo Ruutu and Matt Cullen scored for the Hurricanes, who shook up their coaching staff yet wound up with more of the same results.
They fired coach Peter Laviolette a day earlier and replaced him with Maurice, who coached them to a franchise-best 268 wins from 1995 until he was fired in December 2003. They brought Hall of Fame player Ron Francis out of the front office and put him behind the bench as the associate coach.
But they couldn’t provide any quick fixes for a team that fell behind 1-0 for the 11th consecutive game and went on to lose its fifth in six games, its eighth in 12 and its fourth straight at home. They allowed five goals at home for the fourth time in less than a month.
Not even the earlier-than-expected return of right wing Justin Williams – out all season with a torn Achilles’ tendon – could jump-start a power play that went scoreless for the seventh straight game.
While Carolina held one of the league’s most potent offences to 22 shots, Michael Leighton stopped just 17 of them. And some quick scoring by Sykora and Dupuis sucked the energy out of the arena.
First, Sykora took a feed in the slot from Crosby on a power play and wristed a rising shot past Leighton. Then, less than two minutes later, Pittsburgh made it 2-0 after former Penguin Josef Melichar couldn’t handle a puck in the Hurricanes’ zone.
Crosby snatched it and skated toward the net before dishing to Dupuis, who beat the besieged Carolina goalie with a wrist shot that gave the Penguins a two-goal lead for good.
Notes: Sykora’s first goal was just the Penguins’ fifth on the power play away from Mellon Arena. … Carolina D Frantisek Kaberle played his 500th career game. … Leighton started because G Cam Ward was scratched with a groin injury.