The game featured Brandon Sutter and Jordan Staal playing against their old squads for the first time, only to have Staal and the Canes steal the show and top the Pens 4-1 in Carolina Thursday night.
Both Sutter and Staal were unable to register any points, but the Pens couldn’t contain Canes forwards Jiri Tlusty (2G, 1A) and Jordan’s brother Eric Staal (1G, 1A).
The Penguins still sit atop the Atlantic Division with a record of 13-8-0 (26 points), but now fall behind three points to the Eastern Conference leading Montreal Canadiens.
It was a defensive breakdown for Pittsburgh.
Allowing players to settle in the slot all night, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was left out to dry on a lot of the shots taken on his net. This isn’t to say Fleury played well because he only faced 21 shots and he surrendered four goals.
On the season, Fleury now has a 10-5-0 record in 15 starts with a 2.40 goals against average and a .912 save percentage.
Chris Kunitz scored the lone goal, giving him nine on the year. Assisting on his tally was Sidney Crosby and Matt Niskanen.
Make this the second consecutive heartbreaking loss to a Southeastern divisional team. Â The past two contests also have shown the desperate need for Evgeni Malkin back in action.
It doesn’t get any easier for Pittsburgh, as they will now travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens.
Game will be on Saturday at 7 p.m.