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Penguins/Stars Recap: Pittsburgh scores three in third, shuts out Dallas

The Pens break a three game losing streak by coming out big in the third period in Dallas

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Through almost two periods, it was a fairly quiet game for the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road against the Dallas Stars. That changed in a major way when Kris Letang took a shot that hit Sidney Crosby in the head.

Crosby would leave the game and miss a bit of the third period but was able to return, apparently not too much worse for wear.

Luckily the Pens were able to compartmentalize Crosby’s situation and played a a very strong third period in order to win 3-0. Shots through two periods were 22-11 for the Stars, but the Pens flipped the script and outshot Dallas 16-3 in the final frame. The most important shot was by Dominik Kahun at the 7:29 mark, hanging around the net and following up his own shot when the puck came lose and putting it in the back of the net for the game’s opening goal.

About a minute and a half later the Pens extended the lead to 2-0, again with a play from behind the net with Bryan Rust banking a wraparound attempt off a defender’s skate and past Ben Bishop to make it 2-0.

From there, it was all over but the crying as Pittsburgh ran out the clock. Brandon Tanev added his third goal of the season into an empty net to make the final score 3-0 later on.

Three closing thoughts

Murray’s great night. Matt Murray earned his 11th career NHL shutout with a majority of the work coming in the early periods. Murray played well, and though Dallas isn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut, it was a great time for his best night of the season.

Dodging a bullet. After so much time missed to injury by key players already, having Crosby avoid a serious injury was even better than the game’s end result. Pittsburgh can’t afford another serious injury to such a key player.

Riikola’s defensive debut. It was Juuso Riikola’s fourth game of the season, yet his first playing his natural position of defense. And it was a solid night for him- Riikola was on the ice for 29 Corsi Events for to just 11 against (70,7%) and saw a scoring chance advantage of 14-4 while he was on the ice. By the end of the night, Riikola was getting rotated up to some shifts with Kris Letang. It will be interesting to track if Riikola showed enough to avoid being a healthy scratch in the future.