Penguins\' Sidney Crosby, right, celebrates his first-period goal with Evgeni Malkin. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Crosby scored twice and set up another goal to become the first NHL player with 60 points this season as the Penguins relied on Crosby's playmaking and Marc-Andre Fleury's strong goaltending to beat Carolina 3-0 on Tuesday night.
"I'd say this was one of the best games we've played this season," said Crosby, who emphasized the game was won in the defensive end. "It was complete.
"We didn't have any lapses. We were carrying the play and doing a good job."
Carolina outscored Pittsburgh 11-3 in winning the first two games of the four-game season series, but got nothing past Fleury in his second shutout of the season and fourth of his career. He made 31 saves.
"Coach (Michel Therrien) let us know before the game about that 11-3," Ryan Whitney said. "We had to come out strong and we did."
The Hurricanes were playing their first game in 2007, but already have as many losses as they did last January. Then, they went 13-1 to seize control of the Eastern Conference lead before going on to win the Stanley Cup.
Crosby was held to four points in his first six games against the Hurricanes, but that changed in a hurry.
Crosby gave the Penguins the lead by scoring on a break from the Pittsburgh end after Evgeni Malkin stole the puck about 5½ minutes into the game.
With Pittsburgh on a power play early in the third, Crosby made a no-look pass up ice to Mark Recchi, who found Whitney at the side of the net for his sixth goal. The puck deflected off Whitney and past goalie Cam Ward without hitting Whitney's stick.
Crosby scored again midway through the period, skating through three Hurricanes players with a succession of moves before attempting to pass to Recchi. The puck deflected back to Crosby, who put it in for his 19th goal and 61st point of the season.
"They played hard and they got rewarded for it with a couple of bounces going their way for the second and third goals," Ward said. "We like to hold ourselves accountable and, for whatever reason, it was not there tonight."
Crosby, the NHL scoring leader, has 61 points in 38 games. Last year, he didn't get the 60th point of his 102-point rookie season until Feb. 4.
"When you play a team with the offence they have, you have to try to skate with them and not take penalties," Crosby said. "Our focus was on skating with them, and we did that."
Fleury liked how the Penguins stayed patient at both ends of the ice.
"The guys cleared the rebounds, they cut off passes, they helped me out a lot," said Fleury, who has stopped 61 of 62 shots in winning his last two starts.
Carolina had been 7-1-1 against the Penguins since the 2003-04 season and hadn't lost in Pittsburgh in three games since March 19, 2004.
"The effort, the execution, the attitude just weren't there," defenceman Glen Wesley said. "We've got to compete, and we've got to compete with an attitude.
"You're not going to win in this league with guys taking shifts off, you've got to go at it all the time."
At least the Hurricanes avoided a bad injury - something they didn't do in their previous two trips to Pittsburgh.
Star forward Erik Cole broke his neck while being rammed into the boards by defenceman Brooks Orpik on March 4 and didn't return until late in the Stanley Cup final. Forward Trevor Letowski missed nine games this season with a concussion and other injuries after suffering a blind-side hit by Colby Armstrong on Oct. 14.
Notes: Carolina, which leads the NHL with 246 power-play chances, was 0-for-6 with the man advantage . . . Fleury's other shutout this season came in a 4-0 victory over Philadelphia in the Oct. 5 season opener . . . The Penguins have won two in a row, also beating Toronto 4-1 on Friday, since losing five straight . . . Carolina's Eric Staal was held without a goal for the eighth consecutive game . . . Ward started and made 34 saves, even though backup John Grahame is 9-1 with a tie against Pittsburgh.