RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) The Pittsburgh Penguins have been beatable away from home this season. Good thing for them this felt nothing like a road game.
Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist during Pittsburgh’s four-goal second period, and the Penguins routed the Carolina Hurricanes 7-1 on Friday night.
Conor Sheary scored twice, and Evgeni Malkin had a late goal and an assist. Carl Hagelin and Chris Kunitz joined Sheary in scoring during the second for Pittsburgh.
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”In a win like that, I think it was a really complete effort from all the guys,” said Sheary, who has four goals in three games. ”It’s fun to win on the road.”
Trevor Daley scored early and Matt Murray finished with 27 saves while earning his 16th victory – most among NHL rookies.
The defending Stanley Cup champions led 6-0 in winning their third straight overall and earning their first consecutive road victories since early December. It was their second high-scoring game of the week, after beating Washington 8-7 in overtime at home on Monday night.
Viktor Stalberg scored and Cam Ward – making his 21st straight start – had 34 saves for Carolina, which has lost two straight.
Ward allowed seven goals for the third time in his career. He’s given up at least four goals in three straight games.
”You can call that embarrassment,” Carolina alternate captain Jordan Staal said. ”It was a team that made us look like a high school team.”
The Penguins entered just 9-9-3 on the road – only 17th-best in the league – and hadn’t won back-to-back road games since Dec. 8-10.
But playing in an arena packed with Penguins fans – some of whom twirled Terrible Towels and chanted ”Here we go, Steelers” – it turned Raleigh into Pittsburgh South and helped them feel right at home while continuing their mastery of a Carolina team that had been the NHL’s best on home ice since Nov. 14.
Carolina entered with a 14-1-1 home record since then. But Pittsburgh won its fifth in a row against the Hurricanes, including both meetings this season.
”We’d made our players well aware of how well they’re playing at home, and how good this team can be,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. ”Our penalty kill gets a big kill, we get a couple timely saves and then our guys started to skate, and then I thought we took the game over. … We had to have our best game.”
The Penguins took command of this one with that big second period. Hagelin got it started when he pushed in the rebound of Cameron Gaunce’s shot to make it 2-0, a scoring chance created by a giveaway by Teuvo Teravainen in his defensive zone.
Sheary made it a three-goal game when his shot trickled past Ward with 7:32 left. Kunitz poked the puck between Ward’s legs for Pittsburgh’s fourth goal 18 seconds later and Kessel gave the Penguins a five-goal lead when he took a slick cross-ice pass from Malkin and buried it to make it 5-0.
It could have been even more lopsided had Ward not stopped Sidney Crosby’s breakaway attempt moments after Hagelin’s goal.
”I think our first period was actually pretty good, aside from the first 8-10 minutes when we were on our heels,” Sheary said. ”Once we started playing in their end, and in their face, I think that’s when our game got together.”
NOTES: Ward punched RW Patric Hornqvist while the Pittsburgh forward was down on the ice immediately following Malkin’s goal in the third. Ward was given a minor penalty for roughing. Sullivan declined to say if he thought Ward should have been given a harsher penalty. … RW Bryan Rust had two assists. … Ward also allowed seven goals in games against Washington (2007) and Atlanta (2005).
Penguins: Host the Boston Bruins on Sunday in the first of a two-game homestand.
Hurricanes: Visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday – the third meeting between the teams in an 11-day span.