Sidney Crosby, Penguins spoil Guentzel’s return to Pittsburgh, beat Hurricanes 4-1


PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists and the Penguins scored two goals on five shots in the second period, spoiling Jake Guentzel’s return to Pittsburgh with a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

Bryan Rust scored his 23rd of the season and his seventh goal in 10 games. Jesse Puljujarvi added his third of the season — and second in as many games — for the Penguins, who were outshot 31-14 in the last two periods. Drew O’Connor added an empty-net goal at 18:04 of the third.

“We didn’t give them much,” Rust said. “They had a lot of shots from the outside, I thought we defended in front of our net well and took what the game gave us. Overall, we played hard and smart.”

Crosby scored his 35th goal of the season and became the first active player, and 14th in NHL history, with 15 or more 40-assist seasons. He also collected his 239th career multi-assist game and passed Joe Thornton for 10th in NHL history. The Penguins snapped a three-game losing streak and rebounded from an overtime loss at Colorado on Sunday, when they squandered a four-goal lead.

Alex Nedeljkovic, Carolina’s second-round draft pick in 2014, stopped 38 shots for Pittsburgh.

“You know (Guentzel) wanted to score,” Nedeljkovic said. “You know he wanted to have a good night and their line was buzzing. But at the same time, I think every one of us in here probably wanted to keep him off the scoreboard as best we could.”

Dmitry Orlov scored his sixth for Carolina, which lost for the second time in three games and had its seven-game point streak halted. Pyotr Kochetkov had 18 saves.

Pittsburgh traded Guentzel to Carolina on March 7, along with Ty Smith, in exchange for Michael Bunting, three prospects and draft picks. Guentzel had six shots in 21:06 of ice time on Tuesday.

“My intention was to stay,” Guentzel said. “But (Pittsburgh) thought there was a better direction to go a different way. It’s out of my hands. It’s not my choice.”

Pittsburgh is in danger of missing the playoffs for a second straight season after 16 consecutive postseason berths and winning three Stanley Cups between 2007-2022.

Carolina, meanwhile, is on the cusp of its sixth consecutive playoff berth. The Hurricanes believe Guentzel can help them in their quest for a Stanley Cup.

“It’s been unbelievable so far,” Guentzel said. “Guys are great and they welcomed me in pretty easy.”

Guentzel scored 466 points in 503 games with Pittsburgh from 2016-2024. He also recorded 58 points in 58 playoff games with the Penguins and led the league in playoff goals during Pittsburgh’s run to the Stanley Cup in 2017.

“It’s special to be back here,” Guentzel said. “I grew up here and have a lot of good memories in this building.”

Guentzel received a loud, sustained standing ovation while a tribute video played during a first-period break. Guentzel, who has two goals and 12 points in nine games with Carolina, raised his stick to the crowd and clapped in appreciation.

“When you get to the arena in the afternoon, it kind of hits you going back into the rink that you’re going a different route,” Guentzel said. “Would’ve liked to get the win, but it’s fun being here.”

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: Host Detroit on Thursday.

Penguins: Host Columbus on Thursday.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl



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