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RECAP: Penguins 2, Oilers 1

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

EDMONTON, AB – Phil Kessel’s power play goal midway through the third period broke the tie and helped the Pittsburgh Penguins to skate away with the 2-1 victory at Rexall Place.

The Oilers (5-9-0) last four losses have all been by one goal.

“We want to win hockey games,” said Oilers winger Matt Hendricks. “We thought we were there, we thought we had chances to score tonight. We just didn’t do it and it’s hard to swallow right now. There are a lot of guys who are upset. The positivity is still in this group, definitely, but we want to win these games more than we lose them.”

Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan doesn’t want his team feeling comfortable with hanging around with the good teams in the league but not coming away with a win. However, he liked the effort tonight.

“I don’t want us to accept losing, but the approach to the game, the effort, the build throughout the night… the holding onto our hands, the resiliency are all real positives for us. But I don’t want us to acknowledge that losing is fine, because it isn’t,” said McLellan. “There were some good things we did. We started very slow, and I don’t mean slow as far as playing hard but passing slow, receiving slow, anticipation skills and polish. All of that made us slow. We didn’t anticipate well and they had the puck a lot the first period. I thought we got better as the night went on.”

A coach’s challenge by McLellan erased the Penguins first goal of the night with 3:43 remaining in the first. Patric Hornqvist was offside, which negated their power play tally.

The Penguins came out of the first period leading in shots 15-5, but without a goal to show for it.

45 seconds into the second period, Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom hammered a rising slap shot past Jeff Zatkoff to give the home team a 1-0 lead. Benoit Pouliot and Nail Yakupov earned assists on the goal.

At 9:06 of the same frame, Penguins rookie Daniel Sprong scored his second of the year, from the slot, to tie the game at 1-1. Matt Cullen and Sergei Plotnikov recorded the assists.

“I think we’re capable of playing a lot better hockey than we did tonight,” said Klefbom. “I think we need to put more pucks to the net like we did our last game and get some more pressure. It’s a good team and we have to stick with it a little more. I think Anders did a great job in net tonight, so it’s up to us.”

Midway through the third, Oilers goaltender Anders Nilsson made a stop on David Perron at the top of the crease but tripped up the forward, giving Pittsburgh a power play chance.

15 seconds into that man advantage, Phil Kessel scored to put the Penguins ahead 2-1. The goal, at 9:45 of the final frame, was assisted by Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby.

With 4:05 remaining in the game, Penguins defenceman Ian Cole took an inopportune delay of game penalty to give the Oilers a chance to pot a power play equalizer. Unfortunately for the Oilers, they couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity.

Leon Draisaitl came close to tying the game, hitting the post on his backhand after the penalty expired.

The Oilers pulled Nilsson with 1:26 left in the period and as he was going to the bench the home crowd believed their team had scored the game-tying goal. However, Zatkoff had trapped the puck underneath his pads to keep it a 2-1 game.

Despite a few late Oilers chances, the Penguins would hold on for the road win. Pittsburgh outshot Edmonton 33-28.

Zatkoff made 27 saves in his second win of the season as the Penguins have won six straight and are 9-1-0 after starting the season with three losses.
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