PITTSBURGH — The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-2 at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday, pulling into a tie for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
Morgan Geekie had two goals and an assist in his NHL debut, Justin Williams scored twice to extend his goal streak to four games, and Alex Nedeljkovic made 28 saves for the Hurricanes (37-25-5). They won their second straight after going 0-3-1 in their previous four games.
Carolina is tied with the New York Islanders for the second wild card from the East; the Columbus Blue Jackets moved two points ahead with their 2-1 win at the Vancouver Canucks later Sunday.
“It was the complete game,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “The penalty kill was good. The power play was good too. … We were able to just get to our game. Nothing special, but it was a good effort.”
Patrick Marleau scored his first goal for Pittsburgh (39-23-6), which has lost eight of its past 10 games in regulation to fall five points back of the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers for first in the Metropolitan Division. Marleau was traded to the Penguins by the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 24.
“The answers are inside our locker room,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We just have to make sure we bring the right attitude to the rink so that we can work ourselves out of this. We have to rely on one another. We have to trust one another. It comes down to a certain attitude, a level of enthusiasm.”
Tristan Jarry, who made 30 saves for the Penguins, lost a fourth straight start for the first time in his NHL career. He started after Matt Murray made 23 saves in a 5-2 loss to the Capitals on Saturday.
“It’s tough when you’re playing Washington and Carolina, they’re both in your division,” Jarry said. “Everyone needs points this time of year. You see how tough it is to win.”
The Hurricanes scored five straight goals after Evgeni Malkin put Pittsburgh ahead 2-1 with a one-timer on a 5-on-3 at 16:33 of the first period.
Jaccob Slavin tied it 2-2 on a wrist shot from the point at 13:07 of the second period before Jake Gardiner gave Carolina a 3-2 lead with a slap shot on the power play at 18:04 of that period.
Williams deflected a shot from Haydn Fleury, making it 4-2 at 8:30 of the third period. He scored again to extend it to 5-2 at 15:02.
Geekie, selected by the Hurricanes in the third round (No. 67) in the 2017 NHL Draft, scored his second of the game on a wrist shot for the 6-2 final with 3:41 remaining.
Marleau gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead by driving to the net and scoring on a backhand at 9:19 of the first period. It ended his 17-game goal drought.
Geekie deflected a shot from Gardiner for his first NHL goal, tying the score 1-1 at 9:52 of the first. He took a flight at 8 p.m. ET Saturday after being recalled from Charlotte of the American Hockey League.
“I called my parents and my girlfriend right away. Said, ‘Come on down. I got called up,'” Geekie said. “They kind of made it work. Fit it into their schedule. I’m glad they could be here tonight. … Just tried to go out there and keep things simple, adjust to the speed of the game and play hard out here.”
They said it
“That third period was as quiet as I’ve ever heard this arena. This arena gets really buzzing. So we definitely did something right. We have these guys three more times. We got one on them. The next three are going to be just as important.” — Hurricanes forward Justin Williams
“It’s a game of mistakes. It’s always like that. This time of year, they’re magnified even more. We made a few more than they did. That was the difference in the game.” — Penguins forward Sidney Crosby
Need to know
Geekie became the second player in Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers history to have three points in his NHL debut, joining Dan Bourbonnais (one goal, two assists on Dec. 30, 1981.) He also joined Brad Defauw (two goals on March 10, 2003) as the only players in Carolina/Hartford history to score twice in his debut. … Marleau’s goal was his 562nd in the NHL. He passed Mike Modano (561) for 25th place on the League’s all-time goals list. … Defenseman Kris Letang played his 807th game for the Penguins, passing Jaromir Jagr for fourth on Pittsburgh’s all-time list. He is behind Crosby (983), Mario Lemieux (915) and Malkin (906). … Hurricanes forward Nino Niederreiter had one assist in his 600th NHL game. … Carolina forward Ryan Dzingel did not play with an upper-body injury sustained in a 3-2 overtime win against the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Hurricanes: At the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-D, FS-CR, NHL.TV)
Penguins: At the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV)