RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes toppled Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils in the first round and the Boston Bruins, the best team in the Eastern Conference, in the second round.
The Pittsburgh Penguins turned out to be too much. The Canes' unlikely postseason run ended Tuesday night with a 4-1 loss on their home ice.
The Penguins, the Stanley Cup runner-up in 2008, will get another shot at the NHL's top prize after sweeping the Canes in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Pittsburgh's supporting-role forwards — Ruslan Fedotenko, Maxime Talbot and Bill Guerin — scored after the Canes jumped out to an early 1-0 lead.
Craig Adams, the former Canes winger who didn't score a goal in the 2006 playoffs, added an empty-netter with 67 seconds left to close the scoring.
The Carolina franchise hadn't been swept in a playoff series since 1989.
For the second straight game, the Canes scored first. And for the second straight game, the Pens answered back with the next three goals.
Guerin's goal at 12:10 in the second period salted away the Pens' second straight conference title. They lost to Detroit in six games in last year's Cup final. The Red Wings are one win away from the first rematch in the Cup final since Edmonton and the New York Islanders met in both 1983 and 1984.
Guerin finished a sweet pass from Sidney Crosby on a 3-on-1 break to end any hope of another hockey miracle for the Canes.
Carolina struck first just 96 seconds into the game with Eric Staal's first goal of the series but it has been all Pittsburgh since.
Fedotenko tied the game at 1 at 8:21 then Talbot turned a Nic Wallin giveaway into a goal.
Talbot's goal with 1:29 left in the first period gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead.
Talbot's shot took a funny bounce off Canes defender Anton Babchuk and over Cam Ward's outstretched glove.
It was Staal's first goal in seven games. It was the first time in eight playoff games the Canes lost when Staal scored.