Stars rally from 2-0 first-period deficit, beat Penguins in shootout
DALLAS — Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel came into Friday night's game as the top three scorers in the NHL since Jan. 1.
The Dallas Stars muscled up on the high-flying trio in regulation, largely keeping them in check.
Goalie Kari Lehtonen then finished the job in the shootout.
Tyler Seguin was the only successful shooter in the tiebreaking round, and Lehtonen stopped Malkin, Crosby and Kessel in succession, leading the Stars to a 4-3 victory.
“It's unfortunate a game like that has to go to a shootout, but we played really well all night,” goalie Matt Murray said. “It's a good point moving forward.”
There's room for disagreement on Murray's final assertion.
In one sense, Murray is right. The Penguins should be thrilled with the point they gained to improve to 11-4-1 since New Year's Day. They were losing 3-2 when Justin Schultz collected a deflected Malkin centering pass in the left faceoff circle and buried a shot with 73 seconds left to force overtime.
“Lucky bounce. Happened to get a lot on it,” Schultz said. “It was a big goal for us.”
In another sense, it was a missed opportunity for the Penguins, who scored the game's first two goals and carried a 2-1 advantage into the third period.
About three minutes into the period, Alexander Radulov took a puck deep and made a pass back to John Klingberg for a blast through the legs of center Carter Rowney and Murray.
About three minutes after that, on a play where Murray lost his stick, Dan Hamhuis tracked down a rebound in the slot and ripped a shot past Murray.
“You practice playing without your stick,” Murray said. “I don't feel like I need a defenseman's stick. I think they're probably better off having it. Just a bit of a moving screen on that one. I was late picking it up. Guy put a pretty good shot on it.”
The Penguins lost for the first time in 18 tries when carrying a lead into the third period this season. They've also lost four of their last five road games.
“Good teams finish games out like that,” defenseman Ian Cole said. “There have some games where we were winning 5-1, and we let teams back into it, made it a little too entertaining. I think it's something we can do better.”
The Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 11 minutes of the first period thanks to some depth scoring.
After taking his first penalty in 47 games in a Penguins uniform, Riley Sheahan emerged from the box, kept the puck himself on a two-on-one with Bryan Rust and slipped a backhand shot past Lehtonen about nine minutes in.
Less than two minutes later, Carl Hagelin stole a puck from Klingberg in the defensive zone, used his blazing speed to take off on a breakaway and flipped a shot over Lehtonen's blocker.
The only point the team's big three scorers collected, conversely, was Malkin's assist on Schultz's tying goal.
Three of the Penguins' five losses in 2018 have come against Western Conference teams that favor a more physical style of play, especially against the team's top stars.
“That was certainly the tactic tonight,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “A lot of teams try that. We've gone through that for a couple of seasons now. Teams try to play that way against us because they think that's their best chance to beat us.
“Our message to our guys has always been and will continue to be, ‘Let's not play their game. Let's play ours.' We have to make sure we play to our identity, and that's the speed game and making sure we get to pucks and we put people under pressure and use our quickness to our advantage.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.