RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes just cant win. Certainly not at home.
Just when it appeared the Hurricanes might end a frustrating run of home-ice futility Tuesday, they only added to it.
A 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins was their eighth straight at PNC Arena, setting a franchise record.
The Penguins (30-10-0), who clinched the NHLs Atlantic Division and lead the Eastern Conference, were playing without injured stars Sidney Crosby, James Neal and Kris Letang. But their lineup packed enough punch to beat the Canes, who have lost six straight and 13 of the past 14. They now trail the Washington Capitals the Southeast Division leaders by 10 points.
The Hurricanes (16-21-2) got first-period goals from defensemen Joe Corvo and Bobby Sanguinetti, and took a 3-2 lead two minutes into the third period on Riley Nashs goal. Justin Peters, a surprise starter in net, made some timely saves. Would this be the night, the game, a home-ice win? No, it would not.
Pittsburghs Beau Bennett tied the score at 3 at 9 minutes, 49 seconds of the third. Thirteen seconds later, Evgeni Malkin scored off a rebound of a Jarome Iginla shot.
Just like that it was 4-3, Pens. The Canes, the night after a 6-2 beating by the Boston Bruins, battled to the final seconds before the Pens Pascal Dupuis sealed it with an empty-netter.
We were playing a very good hockey team, Canes coach Kirk Muller said. They were rested, sitting here waiting for us ... and yet we come out with a really great effort.
The Pens had last played Friday, beating the New York Rangers in a shootout. They matched the Canes first-period goals on goals by defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and forward Brenden Morrow, who scored his first goal for Pittsburgh since being traded by the Dallas Stars.
Muller said three turnovers by the Canes in the neutral zone were decisive. Morrow forced one, eventually scoring after taking a pass from former Hurricanes forward Jussi Jokinen and then wheeling around Faulk in the slot.
A hit by Craig Adams on the Canes Drayson Bowman, injuring Bowman, led to Bennetts goal.
Theyre a veteran team, and they made us pay on three simple turnovers, Muller said. Its unfortunate. Aside from that, I thought we had a pretty gutsy effort.
Peters gets start
Peters started the game in Boston on Monday and was yanked for Dan Ellis after allowing two early goals. Ellis was scheduled to start Tuesday, but suffered a lower-body injury during the pregame warmup.
Peters did a great job for not thinking he was going to play and being told five minutes before the drop of the puck he was the starting goalie, Muller said.
Defenseman Justin Faulk was activated off injured reserve Tuesday and returned to the Canes lineup after missing nine games with a sprained knee. Forward Alexander Semin also was back after missing two games with an upper-body injury.
Faulk and Semin each played almost 23 minutes. Faulk delivered four hits but was critical of his play.
I dont think I played as well as I wanted to, he said. A few pucks ended up in our net because of that. It was a good battle, but I dont think I was good enough tonight.
Low on forwards
The Hurricanes may be running out of healthy forwards. Patrick Dwyer did not play Tuesday because of a lower-body injury, and Bowman (upper-body) and Tim Brent (lower-body) left during the game.
Corvo and Sanguinetti both scored after faceoff wins the first by Jordan Staal, the second by Eric Staal and beat Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with rising shots through traffic. Nash scored in front of the crease after Chad LaRose controlled the puck behind the net and Tuomo Ruutu got off a shot.
Any time you get a lead in the third you want to clamp down and do the little things right, Nash said. It just didnt seem like we did that. Its another learning experience, I guess.
One of many.