Norwich ended PNE’s nine-game unbeaten run in the league at Deepdale, securing a comfortable 3-1 victory.
Graham Dorrans put the Canaries ahead with 28 minutes gone, capitalizing on some careless play from Tom Barkhuizen before arrowing a low shot into the bottom corner.
Josh Murphy helped established a comfortable lead going into the break, stroking the ball underneath Preston goalkeeper Chris Maxwell from close range after Cameron Jerome’s lay-off.
Substitute Tommy Spurr pulled a goal back for North End, heading Paul Gallagher’s free-kick against the post and into the back of the net.
James Maddison, who also came off the bench in the second-half, made sure Norwich would head home as the winners, taking Steven Naismith’s pass and slotting the ball home from close range.
Looking to freshen things up after the defeat to Huddersfield just three days ago, Preston manager Simon Grayson brought in Callum Robinson and Alan Browne in place of Ben Pearson and Daniel Johnson.
The only enforced change saw Andy Boyle take his place in defence after Tom Clarke suffered a season-ending Achilles injury against Town.
Keen for a response after a comprehensive home defeat at the hands of Fulham, Norwich manager Alan Irvine made four changes, bringing in Ryan Bennett for Timm Klose in defence.
There was a shake-up in midfield as Elliott Dorrans and Naismith replaced Alex Tettey and Wes Hoolahan in midfield whilst Jerome was preferred to Nelson Oliveira up front.
Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy was almost caught cold with two minutes gone as Aiden McGeady’s delivery deflected off Russell Martin, narrowly evading the top of the crossbar.
Naismith had a chance to work Maxwell but headed Alex Pritchard’s cross straight over the bar.
Jerome looked to break the deadlock in spectacular fashion with an overhead kick but the ball was saved comfortably by Maxwell.
Approaching the half-hour mark, Dorrans put the Canaries in front, capitalizing on Barkhuizen’s inability to clear the ball and striking a driven shot straight into the bottom corner.
Murphy doubled Norwich’s lead five minutes before the break, stroking the ball into the bottom-left corner after Jerome’s backheel.
Robinson looked to pull a goal back early in the second-half, cutting inside and arrowing a shot straight at Ruddy after exchanging passes with McGeady.
Moments later and Robinson had another chance to reduce the deficit but spurned a golden opportunity, electing to try and pick out the onrushing Barkhuizen to no avail after a great delivery from Maxwell.
Robinson and Barkhuizen combined once more but this time the latter couldn’t find the target, blazing a shot high and wide.
Spurr created a foothold for North End to get back into the game, guiding Paul Gallagher’s free-kick into the back of the net from inside the box with 67 minutes gone.
Jordan Hugill almost snatched a point in the final few minutes of normal time, sending a volley narrowly wide of the right-hand post after a raking pass from Boyle.
That miss proved to be costly as Maddison went up the other end and made sure it was the Canaries who would be heading home with all three points, collecting Naismith’s pass before stroking the ball underneath Maxwell.
The defeats sees North End drop two places down into 12th whilst Norwich move up into 8th.
PNE: Maxwell, Vermijl (Horgan, 62), Huntington, Boyle, Cunningham (Spurr, 10), Barkhuizen, Gallagher, Browne, McGeady, Robinson (Johnson, 82) and Hugill. Subs not used: Hudson, Makienok, May and Beckford.
Norwich: Ruddy, Pinto, Bennett, Martin, Dijks, Dorrans, Howson, Naismith, Pritchard (Maddison, 78), Josh Murphy and Jerome (Oliveira, 78). Subs not used: McGovern, Whittaker, Wildschut, Jacob Murphy and Godfrey.
Attendance: 11,373 (546)
Referee: James Adcock (Nottinghamshire)