Despite a stellar performance between the pipes from Jonathan Bernier, the Ducks found themselves on the losing end of a wildly entertaining 3-2 final in Pittsburgh. Cam Fowler and Corey Perry scored for Anaheim, which fell to 0-2-0 on the season. Bernier made 42 saves in the loss, just six shy of his career mark of 48 previously set on Dec. 5, 2013 with Toronto against the Dallas Stars.
Ian Cole, Conor Sheary and Phil Kessel scored for the Penguins, who improved to 2-0-0. Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury recorded 34 saves in the victory.
For the second consecutive game, the Ducks came out of the gates flying, but it was the Penguins that struck first.
After receiving a cross-ice pass from Trevor Daley at the blueline, Cole unleased a point shot that found its way through a maze of bodies in front of Bernier with 8:14 remaining in the first period. The goal was Cole's first of the season and just the 11th of his career spanning 259 regular-season games.
Less than four minutes had elapsed before Pittsburgh committed two penalties in consecutive fashion that gave the Ducks a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage. And for the first time this season, the power play delivered. With Ryan Kesler providing the screen in front of Fleury, Fowler's one-timer sailed past both of them to tie the game, 1-1. Anaheim's power play was something of an enigma up until then, after the club went 0-for-23 in the preseason and 0-for-5 in Dallas on Thursday.
The Penguins regained the lead just two minutes into the second period when Fowler and Bernier had a miscue behind the net that sent the puck into the crease, where Sheary jammed it home. The second-year man is coming off a postseason that saw him put up four goals and 10 points in 23 games.
The lead would increase to 3-1 when Kessel was allowed time and space to walk in and fire one through the five-hole for his first goal of the season. The play started when Patric Hornqvist outmuscled Josh Manson for a loose puck beneath the goal line and fed it to Kessel, who provided puck support along the near boards.
Perry cut the deficit in half off a set draw that Ducks fans have seen before. Ryan Getzlaf opted to use the backhand at the last second against Matt Cullen, who was also trying to win it back to his defense. The puck landed on the stick of defenseman Kris Letang, who, despite being in position, was caught off guard, allowing the puck to sneak by where Perry picked it up and sent it top shelf over the outstretched Fleury.
Both teams traded quality chances in a wide open third period that had Bernier and Fleury making highlight-reel saves with regularity. But the defending Cup champs knew a thing or two about protecting a lead, and locked it down in the final frantic minutes to hold on for a 3-2 victory.
The Ducks will get right back at it tomorrow night when they take on the New York Islanders at Barclays Center.