The win marked the Penguins’ seventh consecutive playoff berth.
The aggressive game began with a lengthy bout between Pittsburgh’s Deryk Engelland and Carolina’s Kevin Westgarth, with both heavyweights were throwing vicious haymakers. The next 1:30 was filled with penalties, as the Pens and the Hurricanes traded slashing minors. After Chris Kunitz was called for tripping to put the Canes on a 4-on-3 power play, Joe Corvo ripped a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury top shelf to put Carolina up 1-0.
The Pens answered quickly however. Robert Bortuzzo crashed the net and Pascal Dupuis set him up with a pretty cross-ice pass. Bortuzzo buried it at the side of the net and at 5:38, the game was tied at 1.
Former Hurricanes’ forward Jussi Jokinen continued his hot start with the Pens, setting up newly acquired Brendan Morrow with a sweet no look pass. Morrow deked out the defenseman and sniped a shot past the goaltender to net his first as a Penguin. The goal put the Pens up 2-1.
The lead did not last as under two minutes later Carolina’s Bobby Sanguinetti scored his second goal of the season and the game was tied 2-2 going into the break.
There was no scoring in the second period because of Fleury’s stellar play. He made a brilliant save on Eric Staal, and then another on a rebound with 11:09 remaining in the period. At the end of the second period, the Pens led in the shot department 19-18, but the score was still tied at 2.
The Canes scored quickly into the third period when Tuomo Ruutu slapped a shot off of Fleury’s pads, which rebounded right into the slot. Riley Nash was there to rip it home and the Hurricanes led 3-2. The lead would not last.
At 9:49, Bennett wristed a shot past the goaltender and suddenly the game was tied at 3. Just 13 seconds later Malkin poked home a rebound and the Pens had the lead 4-3. The game remained tied until Pascal Dupuis netted an empty net goal to seal the deal for the Penguins.
The Penguins finished the game out-shooting the Canes 34-28, en route to their 30th victory of the season. The Penguins remain the only team in the east to clinch a playoff spot.