Reversing the script from the previous evening, the Pittsburgh Penguins finished strongly to earn two points on the road against one of the NHL’s top teams.
Twenty-four hours after blowing a 2-0 lead in San Jose, the Penguins rallied from a pair of one-goal deficits Friday night, forcing the Anaheim Ducks into overtime at Honda Center. After a scoreless five minutes, Pittsburgh prevailed 3-2 in a six-round shootout.
Evgeni Malkin helped the Penguins (42-17-4, 88 points) pick up one standings point with his game-tying power play goal nine minutes into the third period. Following quick passes from Sidney Crosby and James Neal, Malkin snapped his 19th of the year past Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller from the inner edge of the right circle.
Unlike Thursday against the Sharks, when they faded in the final two periods of a 5-3 loss, the Penguins gradually gained the edge in play as Friday’s match wore on. Both sides had chances to win in a frantic sudden death period, but Hiller stoned Crosby on a breakaway and Pittsburgh netminder Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside Hampus Lindholm from close range.
In the shootout, Crosby tucked a forehand under Hiller to give the Pens a 1-0 lead in the second round; however, Corey Perry added to his pair of regulation goals with a tally that extended the tiebreaker into extra frames. In the fifth round, Chris Kunitz and 43-year-old Teemu Selanne exchanged goals, but Brandon Sutter‘s sixth-round backhand held up as the decider when Fleury forced Ryan Getzlaf into an off-target shot.
Fleury’s play made the difference in the opening 30 minutes or so, when the Pens struggled to match the pace of the league-leading Ducks (43-14-7, 93 points). Perry netted his 33rd goal in the early moments of the first, followed by his 34th 1:10 into the third; Getzlaf assisted on both of his linemate’s goals, which were typical slam dunks from the crease.
Malkin was the only Penguin to have multiple points, as he helped set up Deryk Engelland‘s first-period strike. Fleury made 29 saves to boost Pittsburgh to a 2-2 record on its current five-game road trip.
The Ducks jumped on the weary Pens right from the start, with Perry converting the rebound of Getzlaf’s wrist shot four minutes into the game. Getzlaf danced past Neal’s backcheck to unleash a drive from the left circle that Fleury could only knock down before Perry stuffed it in.
Anaheim went on to outshoot and outchance Pittsburgh by wide margins in the first period, but the visitors escaped the frame with a 1-1 tie after Engelland beat Hiller from the high slot at 7:47. Jussi Jokinen‘s pass to the middle was deflected high into the air, falling between the circles for Engelland to whip through Hiller’s legs for his career-best sixth goal.
Although the Ducks enjoyed a 23-7 shots advantage through two periods, the middle frame saw the Penguins generate the superior looks at the net. Only a hit post by Neal and a sliding save by Hiller on Malkin kept the score knotted after 40 minutes.
Pittsburgh put together a 7-5 edge in shots in the third period, culminating in Malkin’s equalizer, a dart past Kunitz’ screen and inside the left post.
The Penguins conclude their five-game road trip with a Monday night matchup in Washington.