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Penguins beat Carolina 2-1 in shootout

Carolina Hurricanes' Jamie McBain (4) celebrates his first-period goal with Jussi Jokinen (36) during an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012. Carolina Hurricanes' Jamie McBain (4) celebrates his first-period goal with Jussi Jokinen (36) during an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
By Will Graves
AP Sports Writer / January 17, 2012
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PITTSBURGH—James Neal beat Carolina's Cam Ward on the stick side in the shootout to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 2-1 victory over the Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

Evgeni Malkin scored his 22nd goal of the season for the Penguins and scored leading off the shootout as Pittsburgh won its third straight.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves and stopped Carolina's Eric Staal's backhand bid to extend the shootout as Pittsburgh continued to rebound from a six-game losing streak.

Ward made 40 saves for the Hurricanes and Jamie McBain scored his fourth goal of the season, but Carolina struggled on the power play and couldn't take advantage of a couple of great chances against Fleury in overtime.

The Penguins again played without captain Sidney Crosby, who continues to deal with lingering concussion-like symptoms.

The team announced on Monday that Crosby will visit Dr. Ted Carrick this week. Carrick, a chiropractic neurologist, successfully treated the 2009 MVP last summer.

There remains no timetable for Crosby's return, though Malkin has done his best to pick up the slack.

The Russian almost single-handedly led the Penguins to a weekend sweep through Florida over the weekend, including tying a career high with five points in a victory over Tampa Bay on Sunday.

He leads the NHL in shots per game and spent the night peppering Ward, firing off six and narrowly missing the net on a half-dozen others.

After McBain put Carolina in front at 2:11 of the first after jumping into the play and firing a shot by Fleury, Malkin tied it late in the period with one of his prettiest goals of the season, stealing a clearing attempt then roofing a backhand over Ward's glove.

Malkin has 52 points on the season.

The Penguins, second in the NHL in shots per game, continued to fire away at Ward though the veteran was equal to the challenge.

Ward kept Pittsburgh at bay on a night the Penguins played with a sense of urgency that was lacking during a six-game losing streak.

Fleury wasn't quite as busy, but saved his best for the extra session, coming up with a pair of spectacular saves to prevent the Hurricanes from winning at the Consol Energy Center for the first time since it opened at the beginning of the 2010-11 season.

Carolina center Jeff Skinner left briefly in the third period after taking an open-ice hit from Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik.

Skinner was playing in just his second game since missing 16 games with a concussion. The 19-year-old center was on the ice for several moments before being helped to the bench, but returned later and was part of Carolina's three-man shootout.

Notes: Pittsburgh's Paul Martin notched his 200th career point by assisting on Malkin's goal. ... The Penguins travel to New York on Thursday to play the Rangers while the Hurricanes host Washington on Friday. ... Carolina is 8-11-4 since Kirk Muller took over for Paul Maurice at the end of November. ... Jaroslav Spacek, Chad Larose and Jerome Samson were scratched by the Hurricanes while the Penguins scratched Arron Asham.

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