The Pittsburgh Penguins rallied, but could not overcome Vancouver as the Canucks held on for a 4-2 win Monday night at Mellon Arena.
The loss is the seventh in a row for the Penguins (11-26-9). The contest marked the last of the Penguins’ 10 games against Western Conference foes. The Penguins went 1-9 in those games.
“We had our chances. Their goalie made some great saves. I thought we created some stuff and we took some quality shots, but there’s nights when the puck goes in and there’s nights when their goalie makes some key saves,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “When you’re coming down off a long road trip, the first game is always tough to play. We knew that we were playing against a quality team. We were trying to outwork those guys and I thought our work ethic was there and that was a good sign. Physically, we didn’t back down. They were physical and we were physical.”
Sidney Crosby got the Penguins on the scoreboard 7:30 into the contest with a power-play goal. Vancouver goalie Alexander Auld stopped Sergei Gonchar’s blast from the near point on a two-man Pittsburgh advantage. John LeClair, stationed in front of Auld, dug away at the rebound and the puck squirted to Crosby, who was positioned along the near post. He slammed the loose puck into the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Penguins killed off a two-man disadvantage as Marc-Andre Fleury made several clutch saves.
However, Steve McCarthy got the Canucks on the scoreboard when he ripped a shot past Fleury with 5:43 left in the period for a 1-1 tie.
Brendan Morrison deflected former Penguin Nolan Baumgartner’s shot past Fleury 4:17 into the second period for a 2-1 lead.
Todd Bertuzzi scored a power-play goal with 6:52 left in the period. He one-timed Morrison’s pass past Fleury for a 3-1 lead.
Mark Recchi wristed a bad-angle shot past Auld with 27.6 seconds left in the second period. Skating down the far half-boards, Recchi was checked into the wall. He peeled off the check and fired the puck at the goal. It sailed into the net to trim the deficit to 3-2. Colby Armstrong and Josef Melichar assisted on the play.
Henrik Sedin banged in Mattias Ohlund’s shot on the power-play with 13:19 to play to give the Canucks a 4-2 lead.
Fleury stopped 21 of 25 shots, while Auld finished with 23 saves on 25 shots.
The Penguins return to action Thursday at 7:30 p.m. against the New York Rangers at Mellon Arena.
ICE CHIPS: Eric Boguniecki, Lyle Odelein and Andre Roy were the Penguins’ healthy scratches…Tyler Bouck and Ed Jovanovski were the Canucks’ healthy scratches…Colby Armstrong and Alexandre Burrows got into a fight 57 seconds into the second period…The announced attendance was 15,681.