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Pens/Stars Recap: Pittsburgh’s winning streak ends with blown third period lead

The Pens go up 2-0 early in Dallas, but then see their lead fritter away and end up losing by a final of 3-2.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Dallas Stars Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images


A lot of wholesale changes up front, with all new lines after Bryan Rust and Brock McGinn are absent due to COVID protocol. The Penguins have to play with only 11 forwards, but add in Mark Friedman as a seventh defender and still have their defensive stability with the same regular pairs they’ve been able to use for now about 30 games.

First period

Six minutes in and it’s the visitors who strike first. Brian Dumoulin is given space in the offensive zone, so he takes it and skates up the left side. With Sidney Crosby near the net but not hindering the goalie and Dumoulin’s shot goes far-side on Jake Oettinger. 1-0 Pittsburgh. Crosby’s work in front also keeps the Stars excellent defenseman Miro Heiskanen from getting better positioning in front of the net and possibly blocking the shot as well, no point for Crosby but a smart little effort play that helped create the goal nonetheless.

It doesn’t take long to make it 2-0. On the next shift, the Pens’ second line earns an offensive zone faceoff. Carter wins the faceoff and Kasperi Kapanen tips in the Marcus Pettersson point shot just 25 seconds after the first goal.

Shots in the first are 11-7 Pens as they come out hot and jump up on the scoreboard.

Second period

The second period sees some special teams team with the Pens getting 3:40 of power play time, and killing a penalty for 1:40. No goals are scored, though the Stars got a couple of good looks at the net.

Dallas gets on the board with 3:59 left on the rush. It’s a bit of a broken play with Denis Gurianov driving to the net and losing the puck, which Carter inadvertently kicked directly back to Gurianov. He accepts the gift and quickly shoots past Jarry. 2-1.

Danton Heinen gets a glorious chance on a cross-ice pass and basically an open net to shoot at...But he hits the outside of the post.

Both teams record 10 shots on goal in the second, as the Penguins take a one goal lead into the last frame.

Third period

The Stars get a dominant offensive-zone shift fairly early, requiring Jarry to make a great scramble save on Jason Robinson. The Pens then flip the script with their top line applying pressure and forcing a penalty by Dallas for a third Pittsburgh power play of the day and Sidney Crosby doing Sidney Crosby things.

Dallas gets a key kill with only one good chance from the stick of Evan Rodrigues.

The Stars tie the game up with 5:01 left, Jarry stops the point shot but there’s a rebound and that’s where Joe Pavelski has made a career scoring goals like the one he did, sweeping the loose puck around the extended leg of Jarry to make it a 2-2 game.

With 3:46 left, the Stars get their first lead of the game. It’s a complete defensive meltdown, with John Marino taking himself out of the play wiping out in the neutral zone and the play going the other way. Marcus Pettersson slides and then takes an angle behind the net, and Roope Hintz isn’t picked up by Carter and literally just stands behind Jarry, finds the loose puck and scores. Ugly breakdown by just about everyone on the ice in a white jersey there at the worst time for it late.

The Pens use their timeout and pull the goalie with over a minute left. They get setup for some 6v5 time, but run out of time before they can find the tying goal. The winning streak is over at 10 games.

Some thoughts

  • The winning streak is broken for the Penguins, but hot starts were a key. They’ve outscored the opposition a combined 19-1 in the first period in the last 11 games, including of course the 2-0 lead they jumped out to early today. Hockey is a lot easier, especially in the NHL, when you are out in front instead of having to chase the game and fight to get the score back, even though that wasn’t enough to ride to a win today.
  • Pretty rough schedule for the Pens, with this being their third game in the last four days, and an accelerated one too being a day game. Add in travel and that is a pretty daunting grind and after a hot start, it did look like the Pens ran out of gas collectively as Dallas got stronger throughout the day.
  • There was some consternation about the Pens only having 11 healthy forwards for this game. Could they have taken a 15th forward on the road with them? Yes. But Kasper Bjorkqvist only played seven shifts and 5:34 in this game. Pittsburgh wasn’t even going to play a 12th forward (or their fourth line) all that much, even if they had one. Not the biggest deal, though certainly an annoying and frustrating reality where multiple key players can disappear from the lineup unexpectedly.
  • Brian Dumoulin now has seven points (2G+5A) in the last 11 games. He only had two points in the first 18 games of his season. It’s always so clutch and necessary for the “fifth” member of the typical first line group to be active and pitch in offensively.
  • That Heinen chance not ending up in the net was a tough one. Pittsburgh hit another post too. Rodrigues and Crosby also came brutally close to scoring. Tough time for finishing luck to run dry, but after scoring 5+ goals almost at will in recent memory, it ended up being the offense that failed the Pens.
  • 0 for 3 on the power play too, that had to lose Rust and didn’t look nearly as sharp as it was last game.

The Pens keep heading west and don’t play again until Anaheim on Tuesday.