RALEIGH, UNITED STATES // The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 on Tuesday to sweep their NHL Eastern Conference final series and secure a return trip to the Stanley Cup finals. The Penguins, who thrashed the Hurricanes 4-0 in the best-of-seven Eastern play-offs, will meet either the Chicago Blackhawks or the defending champions Detroit Red Wings, who beat Pittsburgh 4-2 in last year's finals.
Detroit, who lead their Western Conference series 3-1 over Chicago, can set up a finals rematch with a victory at home on Wednesday. Ruslan Fedotenko, Max Talbot, Bill Guerin and Craig Adams scored for the Penguins, with Sidney Crosby making two assists. Eric Staal broke a six-game scoring drought after only 96 seconds to give Carolina a 1-0 lead in the first period, before Pittsburgh took command.
Pittsburgh finished the regular season fourth in the Eastern Conference before knocking out Philadelphia, Washington and now Carolina in the play-offs. The Penguins last won the Stanley Cup in 1992, the second of back-to-back titles. After Staal's early goal, Fedotenko hit back seven minutes later and Talbot made it 2-1 for Pittsburgh, with a cruel bounce off the Hurricanes defender Anton Babchuk sending the puck over the glove of Carolina's netminder Cam Ward with 1:29 left in the first.
Guerin pushed the score to 3-1 off an assist by Crosby in the second and Adams wrapped it up in the third after another Crosby assist. * Reuters