The Pittsburgh Penguins' frustration really began to show in the third period Friday, when it was apparent the Carolina Hurricanes were the quicker, more aggressive, hungrier team.
The Pens had penalties. Pens captain Sidney Crosby had words with the referees. All the Canes did was keep chasing after the puck, carrying the play.
And won. Carolina took a 4-2 victory at Consol Energy Center, getting two goals and assist from Jiri Tlusty, some spectacular saves from goalie Cam Ward and three periods of heady, sound play from nearly everyone on the ice.
"We were ready from the start," Canes captain Eric Staal said. "We kind of started to frustrate them as the game went on and spent a lot time in the (offensive) zone, which was fun.
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"We were on the right side of a one-goal game, which is better than the way it's been the last few."
The Canes (7-12-3) had lost three straight games, all by one goal and all on the road. The last was a 1-0 loss to Florida on Wednesday, a sour defeat.
But the Canes outshot the Pens 35-22 and never played from behind Friday. Tlusty scored in the first period, Patrick Dwyer in the second and then Nathan Gerbe on a power play in the third when Crosby was called for goaltender interference.
Ward had 20 saves, including a point-blank stop on a quick backhander by Blake Comeau in the first that had him stretch out his paddle and whack the puck away.
"We knew we were going to need a complete effort to be successful against this team," Ward said. "It could arguably be one of our most complete games thus far.
"They've got some highly skilled players on their end and the best way to play against them is to make them play in their own zone. We were able to do that and frustrate them a little bit."
Tlusty's empty netter in the final minute sealed it for the Canes and quieted the home crowd. In a scheduling quirk, the two teams play again Saturday in Raleigh.
The Pens (15-5-2) were coming off consecutive overtime wins and had beaten the Canes eight of the last 10 games in the series and six of seven at Consol Energy Center.
The only down side for Carolina was center Riley Nash, the Canes' leading scorer, leaving the game with a late injury after a collision with Crosby. Canes coach Bill Peters had no update on Nash's condition after the game.
"I thought it was a man's game, I thought it was hard-fought both ways," Peters said.
The Canes moved ahead 3-2 in the third period when Gerbe ripped a rising shot past Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury at three minutes, 10 seconds of the period.
Tlusty scored his team-high ninth goal for Carolina in the first, centering the puck and having it glance off Pens defenseman Olli Maatta and past Fleury, who turned 30 Friday.
The Pens quickly rebounded, tying the score 1-1 just 47 seconds later on a goal by defenseman Kris Letang.
Dwyer scored early in the second period, following up a Pens turnover with a quick-wrister from the left circle, and the Canes had a 2-1 lead. But Crosby found a way to tie it, dropping off a pass to Patric Hornqvist, who beat Ward with a top-shelf shot.
The game was an emotional one for Pens general manager Jim Rutherford, who was the Canes' president and GM for 20 years and won a Stanley Cup before stepping down in April. Rutherford signed or drafted nearly every player in the Canes' lineup.
An even more emotional moment for Rutherford could be returning Saturday to PNC Arena.
"Tonight we played with a high tempo and transitioned the puck well," Tlusty said.