Penguins top Stars 4-3 in shootout
Wednesday, 02.29.2012 / 10:52 PM
Steve Hunt - NHL.com CorrespondentDALLAS --
The shootout means that even the most evenly-played games have to have a winner and a loser. Pascal Dupuis
made sure the Pittsburgh Penguins
left American Airlines Center with their fourth straight "W."
Dupuis beat Kari Lehtonen
in the fourth round of the shootout to give the Penguins a 4-3 victory against Dallas on Thursday night, ending the Stars' four-game winning streak. Dupuis fired a low shot past Lehtonen's blocker as Pittsburgh's fourth shooter. Marc-Andre Fleury
then denied Michael Ryder
for the win.
Ex-Star James Neal
and Chris Kunitz
also beat Lehtonen, but the Stars got even each time as Loui Eriksson
and Jamie Benn
"It was three great goals from our guys," Penguins center Jordan Staal
said. "[Fleury] played so well for us throughout the game and glad we could bail him out in the shootout there."
The Penguins (37-21-5) have won four straight. They are fourth in the Eastern Conference and trail the New York Rangers for first place in the Atlantic Division by seven points.
"They're a tough team. They definitely played a hard game. We were down for a while there and our power play wasn't quite getting us the goals," Staal said. "We got a couple of big even-strength goals and found a way to win it."
The single point gave the disappointed Stars undisputed possession of eighth place in the West with 71 points -- but left them disappointed at seeing the extra point slip away.
"I just thought it was a really good hockey game," Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. "I thought both teams played hard and well. Unfortunately, we couldn't get the extra point."
Fleury stopped 30 shots through 65 minutes while Lehtonen made 26 saves.
The Penguins didn't come out unscathed. At 9:55 of the first period, Dallas' Eric Nystrom
hit defenseman Kris Letang
behind the Penguins' goal, sending Letang to the ice. Nystrom was penalized for roughing; Letang left the ice and did not return with an upper-body injury.
is upper body and day-to-day at this point," coach Dan Bylsma said. "It's a hit along the boards. [Letang was] reaching for the puck. I have not seen the replay on it. I know 24 [Nystrom] traveled the distance to go into make the hit."
Pittsburgh forward Steve Sullivan
also left after the second period with a lower-body injury.
The Stars took a 1-0 lead at 15:25 of the opening period when Benn fired a wrister from the slot past Fleury's glove. Fleury stopped Adam Burish
's shot, but Steve Ott
quickly fed the puck to Benn, who converted for his 18th of the season. The All-Star center was back in the lineup after missing six games with a leg injury.
"It felt good to get out there and play," he said. "I hated having to watch games. I love the energy and confidence of the team right now."
Sullivan tied it with his 12th of the season on a breakaway at 18:53. Dupuis banked a perfect cross-ice pass from the Pittsburgh end to Sullivan, who had gotten behind the Stars defense and raced in alone before beating Lehtonen to his left with a perfectly executed backhand.
Pittsburgh nearly took its first lead at 2:15 of the second period when Evgeni Malkin
skated in and got off a backhand from 15 feet that rattled off the crossbar.
But the Stars went ahead with 13 seconds left in the period when Sheldon Souray
fired a long wrister between the glove and pads of Fleury.
Instead of being discouraged by the late goal, the Penguins came out strong and scored twice in 39 seconds early in the third period to take their first lead. Craig Adams
' deflection of a blast by Jordan Staal
at 3:56 made it 2-2, and a Chris Kunitz
tip-in of Paul Martin
's shot put the Penguins ahead.
"I liked the response from our team," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "We came out hard and played well in the third period."
But the Stars tied it at 7:23 when Ryder scored his team-leading 26th of the season, firing a perfect saucer pass by Loui Eriksson
from the left wing just inside the far post.
Tempers flared a minute later when Nystrom and Malkin had a confrontation near the Stars bench that resulted in a double minor for roughing on the Pens' leading scorer and a two-minute roughing penalty on Nystrom.
Souray nearly won it with 27 seconds remaining in regulation when his long slapper nearly went in before rolling past the near post. Eriksson tried to knock the puck in with a backhand but Fleury was there to deny his attempt.
The Stars were unable to capitalize on a hooking penalty against Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik
that gave them a power play for the first 1:46 of overtime. Souray had another near-miss late in OT when his bomb from the right point beat Fleury but struck the junction between the crossbar and left post.
"We got one off the post from Souray and [Fleury] got the one off the mask from Souray. He had two missiles," Bylsma said. "To be able to get two points and move on is pretty big, a pretty big win."