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"Sterling" Start, Golden Finish

Jordan Staal’s 14th shot beat Jonathan Quick with 18.4 seconds left in overtime and the Penguins scratched and clawed their way to a 2-1 win tonight.

Another game, another forward injured and out of the lineup. Dustin Jeffrey was unable to handle a hard pass from Nick Johnson and collided into the Kings' goaltender with 13:49 left in the second period. He didn’t return and was diagnosed with a lower body injury. Who will be making the four and a half hour drive to Pittsburgh next?

A quick recap after the jump.

UPDATE: Dustin Jeffrey will not make the trip to Long Island, as said by Dan Bylsma in his post-game comments.

After the Pens killed off an Alex Goligoski penalty, the all-WBS Penguins third line got the Pens on the board 6:53 into the first period.  The play resulted because of a great save by Zbynek Michalek in the defensive zone.  Nick Johnson later cycled a puck behind the net to Jeffrey who fired a great pass into the slot to a wide open Brett Sterling. Sterling made it count and fired a shot to the top corner to give the Pens a 1-0 lead.

Jarret Stoll got the Kings even towards the end of the first period. Ryan Smyth fed a pass to Stoll who got past Michalek and slipped a puck through the five-hole of Marc-Andre Fluery.

The second period showcased two good hockey fights. First it was Deryk Engelland vs. Kevin Westgarth. Then Ryan Craig stood up for his teammate and took on Wayne Simmonds in a spirited bout.

An interesting stat from the 2nd period that I didn’t notice while watching the game: the Pens out shot the Kings 11-2 in the second period.  I know without Crosby & Malkin that the offense will struggle but I didn’t think the Pens were that dominant in the middle frame.

The teams continued their conservative play in the third, and Fleury made a few good saves in the waning minutes of the game to send it into the overtime session. Fleury also kept the Pens alive in the extra session stopping four shots.

Final thoughts:

  • Before Jeffery got hurt in the second period, I thought the third line of Sterling-Jeffrey-Johnson was the best line tonight.  They scored the goal in the first period and created offensive scoring chances on multiple shifts.
  • Fleury played great tonight. He stopped 32 of 33 shots and really kept the Pens in this game.
  • It will be interesting to see who the Pens bring up next if Jeffrey can’t play.  Eric Tangradi and Tim Wallace were just sent down so they would probably be at the top of the list, but the Pens have been calling up a lot of different guys so maybe someone new will get the call. I’m pulling for Keven Veilleux.