Penguins' stable of stars overcome Connor McDavid, Oilers in overtime
In a matchup between Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid, the game's two pre-eminent players, the Penguins proved their star power goes a little further down the lineup card than Edmonton's does.
Especially Matt Murray.
Malkin and Kessel teamed up for the winning goal in overtime, and Murray made 29 saves, including the most spectacular stop of his young NHL career, to lead the Penguins to a 2-1 victory over the Oilers on Tuesday night.
“Whenever your goalie does that, you want to get a win for him,” Kessel said.
The Penguins are 6-3-1, including a 3-0 record in the game immediately following a regulation loss this season. The Oilers fell to 2-6. The Penguins are 11-0-3 in their past 14 meetings with the Oilers.
Murray's highlight-reel save came on the first power play of a scoreless game midway through the second period.
A McDavid pass from the right half-wall hit Milan Lucic in front and caromed right to Mark Letestu on the backdoor for a shot into an empty cage.
Murray filled it.
He dove to his right and thrust his stick forward, stopping the shot with the bottom of the shaft, just a few inches above the blade.
There was a method to Murray's madness.
“You're just trying to make a read, I think,” Murray said. “If he's got time, more than likely, he's going to try to raise it. If he's just trying to get it off, it's going to go on the ice.
“He had all the time in the world, so I figured he was going to try to at least get it in the top part of the net. I tried to get my stick over there, and I got a bit lucky.”
Murray credited teammates for keeping the puck out of the net on the goal-mouth scramble that followed. Brian Dumoulin blocked a Lucic rebound bid and Carl Hagelin tipped a subsequent McDavid attempt up over the crossbar.
“Just an unreal sequence,” Murray said. “That's the kind of compete we need on the penalty kill.”
When Ian Cole scored past a Riley Sheahan screen early in the second period, it looked like Murray was on his way to a shutout win.
Then McDavid made his presence known.
He raced up the left wing to track down a diagonal pass and fired a perfectly placed shot to the top-right corner of the net, tying the score with 2 minutes, 53 seconds to go.
“He doesn't need many chances,” Dumoulin said. “He's a guy that score pretty much at will.”
Dumoulin and Kris Letang were the Penguins players tasked most frequently with defending McDavid. Up front, coach Mike Sullivan went with a head-to-head matchup with Crosby most of the time but also mixed in some Malkin and Sheahan.
Crosby, who had five shots on goal, did not have a point, continuing an interesting pattern in his matchups with McDavid. In all three meetings, McDavid has found the scoresheet, Crosby hasn't, and the Penguins have won the game.
In this case, they won on Kessel's goal 42 seconds into overtime.
Malkin made his way up the left wing and passed to Kessel, who had beaten his man in the middle of the ice. He wristed a shot past goalie Cam Talbot's blocker.
“It feels good to get one in there,” Kessel said. “I've had some chances, and they haven't gone in.”
On the day the Penguins found out they'd be without center Carter Rowney for a minimum of four weeks because of a broken hand, they lost defenseman Justin Schultz to injury in the first period. Sullivan said Schultz has been diagnosed with a concussion.