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Kessel and Penguins back on track after slow start, beat Oilers 2-1

NHL.com @NHL

EDMONTON - The tough start to the season for the Pittsburgh Penguins seems far behind them now.

Phil Kessel's fifth goal of the season stood up as the winner as the Penguins won their sixth game in a row, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 on Friday.

Daniel Sprong also scored for the Penguins (9-4-0), who have won nine of their last 10 games after an 0-3 start to the season.

Sprong was inserted into the lineup to take the place of Pens forward Pascal Dupuis, who was taken to the hospital as a precaution prior to the game after experiencing symptoms that were apparently similar to his blood clot history.

"He went for precautionary tests before the game and the tests came back negative," said Penguins head coach Mike Johnston. "He'll be re-evaluated in Pittsburgh. We want to make sure so he'll get checked out and won't play tomorrow night.

"Spronger came back into the lineup after two games out and I thought he played well."

Kessel's goal came on the power play, which he said is coming along nicely.

"We're getting better, we're starting to improve," he said. "We had chances, but, a little crisper and we'll be better."

Oscar Klefbom responded for the Oilers (5-9-0), who have lost two of their last three.

"It was a game of bounces tonight," said Oilers forward Matt Hendricks. "We just couldn't find the back of the net. We had at least three posts tonight. We were right there to the end with some good opportunities, but we just weren't able to finish.

Edmonton head coach Todd McLellan said there were some positives against a tough team.

"I don't want us to accept losing, but the approach to the game, the effort the build throughout the night, because I didn't think we were real strong in the first period, the resiliency those were all positives for us," he said. "But I don't want us to acknowledge that losing is fine, because it isn't."

Pittsburgh appeared to have scored with four minutes left in the first period on a power-play goal by Patric Hornqvist, but a coach's challenge video review determined that the Penguins were offside on the play and the goal was disallowed.

The Penguins had 15 first-period shots on Edmonton goalie Anders Nilsson, while the Oilers only had five on Pens starter Jeff Zatkoff, playing in just his second game.

Edmonton got on the board just 45 seconds into the middle frame as Klefbom crossed the blue line and unleashed a rocket that beat Zatkoff up high.

Pittsburgh tied the game with 11 minutes left in the second as Matt Cullen won a battle on the boards and fed it in front for Sprong, who scored his second goal of the season.

The Penguins went up 2-1 midway through the third as a power-play shot by Kessel hit the hand of defender Brandon Davidson and deflected past Nilsson.

Edmonton came close to tying it with two minutes left, but a Leon Draisaitl shot rang off the post.

The Penguins return to action on Saturday against the Flames in Calgary. The Oilers start a four-game road trip in Chicago on Sunday.

Notes: Oilers winger Jordan Eberle made his season debut after missing the first 13 games of the season with a shoulder injury sustained in a pre-season game on Sept. 29??? It was Edmonton's first game this year without young phenom Connor McDavid, who suffered a broken collar bone in Tuesday's win against Philadelphia and could be out for up to three months.

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