Recap: Golden Knights at Penguins 11.19.23

PITTSBURGH -- Alex Nedeljkovic made 38 saves in his return from a lower-body injury, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-0 win against the Vegas Golden Knights at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday.

The shutout was Nedeljkovic’s first in the NHL since making 17 saves on April 24, 2022, for the Detroit Red Wings. He started for the first time since Oct. 24 after being activated from long-term injured reserve and recalled from a conditioning assignment with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. On Friday, he scored his second career AHL goal in a 4-2 win at Providence.

“A little chaotic, a lot of travel, but fun,” Nedeljkovic said. “It was nice to get back out there in Providence. It was about three and a half weeks since I’ve played. Obviously, tonight was a great night as well.

“All around, it was good night. Guys did a great job. They were tying up sticks, getting in lanes, blocking shots.”

Ryan Graves, Noel Acciari and Evgeni Malkin scored for the Penguins (9-8-0), who lost 4-2 at the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

Sidney Crosby’s point streak ended at 11 games (17 points; nine goals, eight assists). The Pittsburgh center was held without a point for the second time in 17 games this season.

VGK@PIT: Nedeljkovic stops all 38 shots in shutout

Adin Hill made 30 saves for the Golden Knights (13-4-2), who have lost three of four, including 4-3 in overtime at the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

“At the end of the day, they finished, and we didn't,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Credit to them. They have two guys that scored their first goal of the year. That's how you win sometimes, with that type of depth scoring. The reason I know that is because it's what we do all the time. So, they just did it better than us tonight.”

Graves made it 1-0 at 2:13 of the first period with his first goal since signing with Pittsburgh on July 1. Forwards Drew O’Connor and Radim Zohorna created a net-front scramble, where Graves found a loose puck.

“It’s nice,” Graves said. “My main objective is not to come here and score goals, but it’s definitely nice if you can chip in. A night like tonight, where you get a goal from me and a goal from [Acciari], I think that makes life easier. Play with a lead, you’re not always depending on our top-six (forwards) to score.”

VGK@PIT: Graves scores his first goal with the Penguins

Acciari made it 2-0, also with his first goal since signing with the Penguins as a free agent, at 11:39 of the second period. Acciari capitalized on a turnover by Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, who pulled the puck out of a scrum behind the net and backhanded it in front off Matt Nieto.

“They're a good team over there. A lot of experience,” Vegas forward Chandler Stephenson said. “You get those bounces when you have that experience. They create a lot of stuff. To shut out a team like that is pretty tough."

The goal came 47 seconds after Jack Eichel nearly tied it for Vegas, sending a wrist shot off the crossbar from the inside of the left circle at 10:42.

"That's the great thing about our team. The expectation is high,” Eichel said. “You go on a road trip, every game you expect to win. Anything less is not accepted. It's a great expectation to have and a mindset, as a group. Guys are frustrated.”

Malkin scored into an empty net from the neutral zone with 1:18 remaining in the third for the 3-0 final.

“We want to put a game on the ice that’s conducive to winning every night,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “For me, the biggest aspect is making sure you don’t beat yourself.”

NOTES: Penguins defenseman Chad Ruhwedel left with a lower-body injury midway through the third. No further update was provided. … Pittsburgh has six goals in the opening five minutes of a game this season; only the Flyers (seven) and New York Rangers (six) have as many. … Penguins forward Vinnie Hinostroza did not play because of a lower-body injury sustained Saturday. ... Golden Knights forward Mark Stone was minus-3 in 18:21 of ice time.