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Neal scores OT winners as Pens edge Hurricanes

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- Friendships went by the wayside for Pittsburgh Penguins left winger James Neal in overtime Friday night.

Neal scored 1:03 into the extra session, putting the puck past goaltender Justin Peters as the Penguins defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 at PNC Arena.

"It's a different kind of battle when you're battling against your buddy," Neal said, calling Peters one of his best friends since their days as teammates in juniors.

Neal took the puck on a give-and-go from left winger Jussi Jokinen for the winning goal.

"(Peters) had my number all night and I got one," Neal said. "He has been playing great for them. He comes and plays another great game."

Neal's tally came after a frantic third period when Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland, in his first game back after sitting out five games as part of a suspension, scored with 6:45 remaining to put the Penguins ahead.

Engelland's blast trickled into the net past Peters. It was Engelland's third goal in 28 games this season.

But Carolina left winger Drayson Bowman responded to tie the game at 3 with 2:29 left in regulation on a wraparound.

Even though the Hurricanes dropped to 2-9 in overtime games this season, their problems began earlier than that.

"We were vulnerable in the third period even though we were up," Carolina center Jordan Staal said. "That's a good team and knows how to score goals."

Penguins right winger Chris Conner tied the game at 2 less than two minutes into the third period.

Center Sidney Crosby scored earlier for the Penguins, who hold the best record in the Eastern Conference. They were in danger of being saddled with consecutive losses for the first time since early November.

Defenseman Andrej Sekera and left winger Nathan Gerbe scored earlier for Carolina, which lost its fourth game in a row.

"It would have been nice to get two points tonight, but getting that late goal (from Bowman) was a big booster," Peters said.

Pittsburgh, which had a seven-game winning streak snapped Monday night in a 5-0 loss at Ottawa, limited the Hurricanes to two shots across the first 15 minutes of the third period.

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 31 shots for the Penguins.

"(He) was our best player," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "I think it's in the coaches' manual that you try not to look too hard at the game after the Christmas break. We gave them a lot of opportunities in the first period. Luckily, we were able to stay in the game."

Fleury was so busy that he said he felt the impact of a few hard shots in his direction. He said there were a couple of that felt like what he called "stingers."

Peters finished with 22 saves.

The teams combined for three goals in a 32-second span.

Sekera sent a back-hander past Fleury with 1.3 seconds left in the first period.

Crosby, who has a 10-game points streak against Hurricanes, scored 16 seconds into the second period.

Fourteen seconds later, Gerbe poked the puck after an initial shot by right winger Alexander Semin.

Conner made his way around defenseman Ryan Murphy and slid the puck past Peters just 1:58 into the third period, tying the game at 2.

The Hurricanes logged 14 of the game's first 18 shots on goal.

NOTES: The Penguins played their first game without RW Pascal Dupuis since he suffered what is believed to be a season-ending knee injury Monday at Ottawa. He is scheduled to have surgery for an ACL injury, the team announced. ... Hurricanes LW Jiri Tlusty will miss two-to-three weeks after undergoing an emergency appendectomy Tuesday. ... To take Tlusty's roster spot, LW Zach Boychuk was recalled from Charlotte of the AHL for the second time this season. ... The Hurricanes placed D Jay Harrison on injured reserve with a concussion. ... With D Brooks Orpik back in the Pittsburgh lineup after an eight-game absence because of a concussion sustained Dec. 7, Penguins D Brian Dumoulin was scratched for the first time since making his NHL debut six games ago. ... Penguins LW Tanner Glass was back for his first game since Nov. 23. ... Pittsburgh stays on the road for Sunday's game at Columbus. ... The Hurricanes play Sunday at Toronto.
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