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Snap Shots: Pens 5, Oilers 2

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins' 5-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place.

* This was another character win for the Penguins. It wasn't just another victory with many key players out of the lineup due to injury. It was a game where the team faced some serious adversity and responded with aplomb. 

Pittsburgh had a 3-1 lead late in the second period and were on a power play. Instead of extending the lead to 4-1 and icing the game with a man-advantage goal, the Penguin committed a costly turnover, by Evgeni Malkin, that led to a shorthanded goal by former Penguin Riley Sheahan.

All of a sudden, it's a 3-2 hockey game with 22.4 seconds remaining in the middle frame. It's a tough goal to surrender at the end of the period. The Penguins responded as you would want, by charging back on the same power-play sequence and scoring a man-advantage goal, set up by Malkin as atonement, to take a 4-2 lead.

"That could be a huge momentum shift," head coach Mike Sullivan said of the shorthanded goal. "I love the resilience of the group. We came in after the period and said let's put it behind us. We have a minute left on the power play. Let's try to get a goal, but if we don't get a goal then just execute and do the right things, build momentum for the team, and we'll go from there.

"Sure enough, those guys go out and score a goal. We felt like we grabbed momentum right back. I thought the third period was our strongest period."

* In many ways, Tristan Jarry became a man in Edmonton. He joined the Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League at just 15 years old. He spent over four seasons in Edmonton, winning a WHL title and Memorial Cup, and grew as a player and as a person.

And the family that helped raise and mold him into the person he is today is the Rutsch family: Ernie, Lori and their two sons Khenan and Craig. On Friday night, they were in attendance to watch Jarry defeat the Oilers.

"He's made a lot of sacrifices being a junior player, the stuff these guys miss out on as young men," Lori said. "Now it's all paying off for him. That's the best part. All the sacrifices he made growing up. That's why I'm so proud of him."

Jarry continued his string of success by picking up his 10th win the last 12 appearances. He made 26 saves in his homecoming.

"It's pretty cool," Jarry said of the win in Edmonton. "It's something that you never really think would happen. I'm glad it did. I'm glad I was able to start in one of the two cities I grew up in. It was fun."

* All season long the Penguins have been able to overcome injuries to their best players with the aid of secondary scoring. And that was exactly what Pittsburgh did to jump out to a 2-0 lead. The first came off the stick of Chad Ruhwedel on a point shot. Next came Joseph Blandisi's second goal of the year, scoring on a breakaway after coming out of the penalty box.

Brandon Tanev finished things off with an empty-net goal late in the third period.

"It's huge, especially given the circumstances right now with the amount of injuries that we have to have different guys step up and contribute offensively for us is necessary if we're going to continue to find the win column," Sullivan said. "Guys are stepping up at different times. From a coaching standpoint it's been a lot of fun to watch because everybody has been involved. It's been a true team effort in every sense of the word."

* The Penguins scored two goals on breakaways against Oilers goaltender Mike Smith. On the first, Blandisi faked going wide before slipping the puck in five-hole. On the second, Jared McCann faked five-hole before sliding the puck wide around Smith's outstretched pad.

"(Blandisi) showed me the way and I tried to go off of what he did," McCann said. "It's been a while since I got a breakaway. I tried to slow down a bit. I knew I had a little bit of time. I tried to pump fake and he bit there."

* Speaking of the Blandisi goal, it doesn't happen without an amazing pass from forward Zach Aston-Reese to hit Blandisi coming out of the penalty box for his first-period goal.

"I was right next to the bench and everyone was shouting. I heard some stick taps," Aston-Reese said.

And then he sauced the perfect pass? "Pretty much," he laughed.

*The last time the Penguins played the Oilers, Edmonton recorded a 2-1 overtime victory with Smith stopping 51 of 52 shots. This time around, he surrendered two goals on the first four shots and three goals on the opening 13.

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