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Aftermath: Penguins 6, Stars 3

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

LINKS
 
Video: Game Highlights

Photos: Pens 6, Stars 3
Blog: Pens vs. Stars Game Blog
 
QUICK ANALYSIS
The Penguins started the game strong, taking the lead two minutes after puck drop. The Stars gained their composure and converted a few goals to take a 3-1 lead early in the second period. But the Penguins took over from there.

Pittsburgh dominated the rest of the game. The Penguins scored five unanswered goals to flip the 3-1 disadvantage into a 6-3 victory. Pittsburgh buried three goals in the second period to take a 4-3 lead.

The Penguins took complete control of the game after Sidney Crosby scored a shorthanded goal in the opening minutes of the third period. Pittsburgh added an insurance power-play goal from newly-acquired Alexei Ponikarovsky to seal the win.

The win gives the Penguins a three-point lead in the Atlantic Division standings over New Jersey, although the Devils have two games in hand on Pittsburgh.
 
WHAT HAPPENED
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Sidney Crosby had two goals and the Pittsburgh Penguins scored the final five goals in a 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Saturday for their third consecutive win since Olympic break ended.
 
SHOT OF THE NIGHT

Pascal Dupuis re-directs a puck under the arm of goalie Kari Lehtonen
(photo by Getty)
ESSENTIALS
What Went Well: Comeback
The Penguins fell behind, 3-1, early in the second period. But rather than cave in, the team responded by slowly chipping away at the Stars’ lead. The Penguins pulled even and tied the game with three scores in the second period. Pittsburgh scored five unanswered goals to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 6-3 win.

What Could Have Gone Better: Traffic
The Dallas Stars did a great job of creating traffic in front of the Penguins crease. Pittsburgh adjusted in the second half of the game and was able to clear the house, but Dallas did manage to get two goals on loose pucks in the crease area.
 
DIFFERENCE MAKER
 
Sidney Crosby continued his magnificent play with two goals (one shorthanded) and one assist for a three-point night to power the Penguins to victory.

Pittsburgh’s captain was rewarded for relentless effort on his first goal after retrieving his own rebound and stuffing a wraparound shot into the goal. Crosby, who has seen his penalty killing time increase, intercepted a Stars’ pass and then ripped a perfect shot for his second career shorthanded goal.

He finished the game with five shots, a plus-2 rating and 18:54 minutes of ice time.
 
SCORING SYNOPSIS
The Penguins struck first two minutes into the opening period. Matt Cooke collected a pass at center ice along the far wall. He made a quick pass to Jordan Staal, who was streaking down center ice. Staal took the pass and split the defense before burying a shot through goaltender Kari Lehtonen’s five-hole. Pittsburgh 1, Dallas 0.

Mike Ribeiro made a great individual play to tie the game late in the first period. He deked through the Penguins defense and threw a shot on net that was stopped by Marc-Andre Fleury. He picked up the rebound and threw a shot across the goal line. Pittsburgh 1, Dallas 1.

Dallas took a 2-1 lead just 1:29 into the second frame. Ribeiro tracked down a loose puck along the far wall in the Penguins zone with a two-on-one opportunity. Ribeiro flipped a pass over to Brandon Segal, who one-timed a shot into the goal. Dallas 2, Pittsburgh 1.

The Stars added to their lead just 59 seconds later. Brad Richards had the puck in the near side goal line of the Pittsburgh zone. He made a beautiful pass through the mouth of the crease to Loui Eriksson on the other side. Eriksson re-directed the shot into the goal for his 25th tally of the season. Dallas 3, Pittsburgh 1.

The Penguins cut into Dallas’ lead on a beautiful tic-tac-toe pass play finished off with an on-point laser shot by Chris Kunitz. Kris Letang sent an across ice pass to Sidney Crosby at the far wall. Crosby entered the zone, pushing the Stars D back and found Kunitz above the near circle. Kunitz snapped off a perfect shot into the top far corner of the goal. Dallas 3, Pittsburgh 2.

Pittsburgh tied the game halfway through the second period. Letang collected the puck along the far halfwall and threw a hard pass to Pascal Dupuis. Dupuis, who made a great move to gain body position on Dallas defenseman Karlis Skrastins, re-directed the puck into the net. Pittsburgh 3, Dallas 3.

Crosby regained the lead for Pittsburgh with three minutes left in the second. Crosby’s shot from the right of the net was blocked. Crosby pulled the puck back, wrapped around the net and threw a shot that deflected off of Stars defenseman Trevor Daley and into the goal. Pittsburgh 4, Dallas 3.

Crosby posted his 44th goal of the year with a shorthanded tally 1:35 into the final period. Crosby blocked a Stars’ passing attempt in the Pittsburgh zone and took the puck the other way with Staal on a two-on-one. Crosby opted to shoot and roofed the puck over Lehtonen’s right shoulder. Pittsburgh 5, Dallas 3.

Newly acquired Alexei Ponikarovsky netted his first goal as a Penguin with a power-play goal. Sergei Gonchar took a slap shot from the midpoint. The shot missed the net and came off the end boards. Ponikarovsky found the speeding puck and put it into the netting. Pittsburgh 6, Dallas 3.
 
INTRIGUING NOTABLES
 
The turning point in the game occurred in the opening minutes of the third period. Pittsburgh had a 4-3 lead but was killing a 5-on-3 disadvantage. Marc-Andre Fleury made a brilliant sliding save on a one-timer from Brenden Morrow. The Penguins killed the first penalty, and then Sidney Crosby scored a shorthanded goal to crush the Stars’ spirits.

Recently acquired left winger Alexei Ponikarovsky made his Penguins debut in the contest. Ponikarovsky, who was brought in from Toronto in exchange for Luca Caputi and Martin Skoula, scored his first goal as a Penguin on a late power play. He finished the  contest with six shots, four hits and 14:38 minutes of ice time.
 
GAME NOTES
 
> Pittsburgh improved to 39-22-4 on the season with a 20-10-3 mark at Mellon Arena. The Penguins are three points ahead of New Jersey for the Atlantic Division lead.

> The Penguins are 3-0 after the Olympic break.

> Pittsburgh has scored a power-play goal in five straight contests.

> The Penguins wore their blue third jerseys for the final time this season. Pittsburgh is 12-7-3 all time in blue, with an 8-3-1 mark this season.

> Scoring Summary:
PIT, J.Staal (18), 2:11 1st period: Penguins 1, Stars 0
DAL, M.Ribeiro (15), 12:05 1st period: Penguins 1, Stars 1
DAL, B.Segal (3), 1:29 2nd period: Stars 2, Penguins 1
DAL, L.Eriksson (25), 2:28 2nd period: Stars 3, Penguins 1
PIT, C.Kunitz (10), 4:01 2nd period: Stars 3, Penguins 2
PIT, P.Dupuis (15), 9:10 2nd period: Penguins 3, Stars 3
PIT, S.Crosby (43), 16:47 2nd period: Penguins 4, Stars 3
PIT, S.Crosby SH (44), 1:35 3rd period: Penguins 5, Stars 3
PT, A.Ponikarovsky PP (20), 15:13 3rd period: Penguins 6, Stars 3

> The Penguins are now 57-25-8 in the regular season since head coach Dan Bylsma took over. They have a record of 30-11-4 at Mellon Arena. The Penguins are now 39-8-5 all-time when scoring first, 35-3-2 when leading after two periods and 36-1-1 (22-1-1 this season) when scoring four goals under Bylsma.

> Either Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby have figured in on 40 of the last 51 goals for Pittsburgh.

> Sidney Crosby scored his NHL-leading 43rd and 44th goal of the season. He has 20 goals and 34 points over his last 21 games. He has points in 13 of his last 15 contests for a total of 26 (14G-12A) over that span. Crosby has 14 goals in his last 15 games.

> Evgeni Malkin’s career high 15-game scoring streak came to an end.  During the stretch, he posted 24 points (9G-15A).

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves, including three highlight reel stops, to record his 30th victory of the season. Fleury has hit the 30-win plateau for the third time in his career.

> Sergei Gonchar extended his scoring streak to six games with two assists, totaling eight points (1G-7A).

> Chris Kunitz posted a goal and an assist. He has five points (2G-3A) in his last two games.

> Jordan Staal scored a goal and added an assist for two points. He has 10 points (5G-5A) in his last 9 games.

> Alexei Ponikarovsky scored his first goal as a Penguins with a power-play tally.

> Jordan Leopold posted his first point as a Penguin, an assist.

> Three Penguins hit career games played milestones: Mike Rupp (400), Evgeni Malkin (300) and Kris Letang (200).
 
THREE STARS QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
   
1. S.Crosby
2. C.Kunitz
3.A.Ponikarovsky
“I never doubted our guys. That is the thing about our guys – no mater what the score is everybody still believes we can come back. We showed that.”

Marc-Andre Fleury

 

 

Author: Sam Kasan

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