Jordie Barrett's 40 metre kick in the fourth minute of second-half injury time sealed a 27-24 win for the visitors on Friday night.
The result was a bounce-back for the Hurricanes after their upset loss at home against the Blues last weekend, while the Chiefs suffered their second consecutive defeat in Hamilton.
Discipline had been an issue for the Hurricanes against the Blues, and appeared it may be again as co-captain and halfback TJ Perenara was shown a yellow card for a high tackle in the 57th minute.
The Chiefs quickly capitalised, a Shaun Stevenson try converted by Damian McKenzie stretching their lead to 10 points heading into the final quarter.
But the visitors were far from done.
A penalty to Barrett was soon followed by a try to Asafo Aumua, which Barrett converted to lock the two teams together at 24-all.
At that stage, a second draw in two years between the Chiefs and Hurricanes in Hamilton beckoned.
The Hurricanes, though, refused to settle for that, going 35 phases in the dying stages before earning the crucial penalty.
The result took the Hurricanes to 17 points, two within the New Zealand conference-leading Chiefs.
It also meant the Crusaders can claim top spot after six matches with victory over the Sunwolves in Brisbane on Saturday night.