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Penguins/Stars Recap: Malkin’s late goal wins a sixth straight game for Pittsburgh

A tightly contested game against the Dallas Stars is broken up by Evgeni Malkin’s first goal in a long time in the final minute of the third period.

Dallas Stars v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images


Jeff Petry is knocked out of the lineup due to his late game injury from Saturday night, which pushes Chad Ruhwedel back into the game against Dallas. Tristan Jarry gets back in the net for the Penguins.

First period

Nightmare start for Pittsburgh. After a chance by Marcus Pettersson and Jake Guentzel to get the puck out of the zone, neither can do so and Nils Lundqvist bombs a shot that Kris Letang kicks...Right to Dallas center Roope Hintz. Hintz fires it into the net and only 19 seconds into the game, the Stars get a shock lead on a broken play and some bad fortune for the Pens.

Pettersson takes a penalty a few shifts later, but the Pens PK holds strong. Pittsburgh then gets a couple calls of their own, with a poor looking opening power play followed up by a second chance when Evgeni Malkin is impeded. The second power play group scores with P.O. Joseph sniping his first goal of the year by beating a goalie drafted a few picks after him, with some thanks to Jason Zucker taking up the vision in front. That pulls the Pens up to a 1-1 score and extends the team’s power play goal streak to six.

The Pens earn a third power play of the period when Brock McGinn gets swatted in the face with a stick.

Shots end up 12-11 in favor of the Stars after 20 minutes. 5v5 shots are 8-7 Dallas. 5v5 scoring chances are only 3-3, a fairly cautious period with two strong teams generally keeping each other to the outside and keeping a lot of bodies down low in front of their nets.

Second period

A funny sequence happened in the second when two Dallas players broke their sticks and were trapped in the defensive zone. Don’t see that every day. The Pens are perhaps too patient in their setup and can’t take advantage of the unique opportunity though.

Jarry stones Ty Dellandrea on a 2-on-1 after a good pass from Tyler Seguin. Always nice when a goalie can match the lateral movement on a pass that changes the angle and come up with the save.

Neither team finds the back of the net and no penalties are called in the second. Good road period by Dallas to kind of choke this game down and drain it to a 20-minute contest still tied at 1.

Shots in the second are 8-7 in favor of the Pens. Both goalies were sharp when called upon, but both defenses were again doing well to limit and keep play in the neutral zone or at least to the corners and walls for the most part.

Third period

The defensive battle continues into the third. Sidney Crosby is able to pop up with some space and the puck but Jake Oettinger stops him. The period is half over and it’s only Pittsburgh’s third shot of the third, so that’s about how this one is going.

Finally, with 34.7 seconds remaining in regulation, Evgeni Malkin breaks the long goal-less drought and gets the Pens on the board. Some nice passing has all three members of the second line touch the puck and Bryan Rust gets it right in front. Oettinger makes a bold move to poke check it away from Rust, but unfortunately for him, there’s a bad bounce this time when the puck goes directly to Malkin. Malkin has an open net to score his first goal in 10 games at a crucial moment.

The Stars pull their goalie, but can’t get any traction and have little time to do so. The clock expires and Pittsburgh celebrates a sixth straight victory.

Some thoughts

  • It might just be shell shock from the stark difference of seeing the free-wheeling Sabres in the last two games, but man, the Stars are playing within a great defensive structure. They’re a well-coached team that has a lot of size on their blueline and forwards invested enough to back track and take a lot away. It would not be very fun to play this team in a seven game series.
  • As written in the preview, the Stars have been living in overtime lately with three of their last four games going to extra time. They’re just in that mode to fight and claw and compete in very tight games. It was only 35 seconds away from getting back to OT.
  • To speak to how tight it was, at one point in the third period the Pens had 23 shots on goal and had 18 of their shots blocked away by Dallas players. And at the other end of the Stars had 26 SOG and 20 others blocked away. Great efforts by all parties to clamp down on defense, take away shooting lanes and use their sticks to disrupt attempts, you don’t often see (especially in Penguin games) low shots for both teams AND an almost equal number of shots blocked away.
  • For all the deserved hype on the way Jason Robertson was playing, he had a very quiet game. Only four shot attempts (all blocked) and then nothing else in the hits, takeaway or shot territory. His center, Hintz, was the Stars’ best player all night with six shots on goal.
  • Hintz’s goal looked so much like the one Patric Hornqvist beat the Capitals on in Game 6 of OT in 2016. Defender kicks the puck over right to the player on the other team who pounces on the gift.
  • Nice night for Malkin: he drew the penalty where the Pens scored their first goal, then he nets the game winner super late at a moment the team needed him.
  • Two assist game for Zucker, and this is the type of game that the Pens brought him in to help with. He was strong in front of the net, used his speed and hands on the sequence for the GWG and those contributions were extremely valuable.
  • It’s pretty remarkable how barely notable it seems that Kris Letang played 27:35, threw 5 hits and held down the fort for the Pens. Two weeks ago today he was in a hospital learning he suffered a stroke. Now it’s just back to business as usual for the team’s No. 1 defender.
  • Great game for Jarry to settle into as well. The first goal was a tough break and nothing he could have prevented, but then he shut the door with 25 straight saves to close out the game and not give Dallas anything further. The Pens aren’t going to lose too many games when they give up a single goal, sooner or later the talent is going to come through on the other end, and Malkin did just in the nick of time.

In the end, the Pens survived and showed some gumption to push back and play a playoff style of game against a solid club who wanted to play that sort of game. The Pens battled through it, and found a way to pull out a sixth win as their streak grows in an impressive nature. A few days off and then they’re back at it in the road in Florida on Thursday.