As injuries have depleted almost every facet of the Penguins' roster, they have relied heavily on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's brilliance. For one night, he finally looked human.

Fleury was pulled in favor of backup Brent Johnson after stopping only eight of 11 shots, and the Penguins never recovered from an early ambush, dropping their fourth straight game in a 4-1 setback at Carolina.

"The start of this game is what killed us," right wing Craig Adams said.

None of the goals Fleury allowed could be considered soft. Coach Dan Bylsma acknowledged that he yanked Fleury more for the sake of sparking the team than any disenchantment with his performance.

The Penguins controlled large portions of the game but, in what has become a recent theme, simply couldn't finish.

"We started to generate a lot of chances in the second period," center Jordan Staal said. "But, obviously, we need to start scoring more goals."

General manager Ray Shero acquired Alex Kovalev from Ottawa on Thursday with the hope that he would aid the Penguins' injury-riddled forward corps. Kovalev's performance was a mixed bag, but it was evident his skill set remains supreme.

Playing on a line with Staal and another new winger, James Neal, Kovalev displayed his world-class hands and was at his best in the second period. The Penguins drew two early penalties in the period, and Kovalev was impressive on the power play, setting the table for Staal and Tyler Kennedy for terrific chances ? but Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward make big saves each time.