The Pittsburgh Penguins came into the night last in the Eastern Conference, after a four-game stretch where they allowed at least four goals against per game for a total of 19. They were heading into a downward spiral and desperately needed a cure for their defensive woes.
Enter the Dallas Stars and their depleted lineup. The Penguins jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in just the first 10 minutes and scored another two in the second to make it 5-0 after 40 minutes. A shutout felt inevitable until Mattias Janmark and Roope Hintz found a way to squeeze a puck past Casey DeSmith, which ended up being the last goal of the night.
If there was any silver lining to the game, it’s that Landon Bow was perfect in net after replacing Anton Khudobin, who was pulled halfway through the game after allowing five goals on just 16 shots (.688 SV%). Dallas will have to regroup quickly, as they face an upcoming back-to-back set against the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche starting on Friday.
It didn’t take long for the Penguins to open up the scoring. In his first game back from injury, Sidney Crosby made a beautiful backhanded pass to Jake Guentzel, who then one-timed it past Anton Khudobin four minutes in. Less than two minutes later, Alexander Radulov took a hooking penalty and Evgeni Malkin quickly scored on the power play with a laser of his own. Pittsburgh was then kind enough to wait another four minutes before scoring their third, when Crosby boxed out Esa Lindell during a 1-on-1 rush and then backhanded his own rebound past Khudobin. For those keeping track, that’s three goals in under 10 minutes.
In the second half of the period, the Stars finally started to turn things around, preventing any shots on goal by the Penguins while generating some offensive chances themselves. Valeri Nichushkin and Jason Dickinson had a potential chance off the rush, but Nichushkin was unable to get the puck over to Dickinson for the one-timer.
The Stars’ best chance, however, came a minute or two later when Tyler Seguin picked up a bad pass by the Penguins in their own zone. He immediately sent a rocket that beat Casey DeSmith, but the puck unfortunately bounced off of the crossbar. The Stars wouldn’t get another chance like that, and would finish the period already down 3-0.
Score: Dallas 0, Pittsburgh 3
Shots: Dallas 3, Pittsburgh 9
In case you thought the second would start better, Brett Ritchie took a tripping penalty against Crosby just 24 seconds in. The Stars were able to kill the penalty with ease while allowing just a single shot on goal. However, Patrick Hornqvist found the net just a couple minutes later to put the Penguins up 4-0.
Five minutes in, Ritchie went to the box again for boarding, after delivering a very late hit against Juuso Riikola, prompting the crowd to boo the refs for not giving him more. Thankfully, the Penguins would only be on the power play for less than a minute as Mattias Janmark drew a tripping call by Kris Letang.
After a scoreless 4-on-4, DeSmith denied a backhander by Janmark off of the rebound. The Penguins regained possession and marched into the Stars’ zone, at which point Tanner Pearson scored his first goal as a Penguin. That would be it for Anton Khudobin, and Landon Bow got his first taste of NHL action halfway through a 5-0 game.
Bow was tested frequently after taking over, but was able to stop all eight shots against him in the second period, leaving Dallas down by only five heading into the final frame.
Score: Dallas 10, Pittsburgh 24
Shots: Dallas 0, Pittsburgh 5
Not much changed at the start of the final period. Dallas was unable to get any offensive pressure on Pittsburgh early on, though there was a sequence when both Nichushkin and Tyler Pitlick had decent shots on goal. But eight minutes in Janmark finally broke through for the Stars with a tip off of a Roope Hintz shot.
Janmark drew yet another tripping call, this time by ex-Star Jamie Oleksiak with just four minutes left, but Dallas was unable to capitalize, and that’s all she wrote.
Final Score: Dallas 1, Pittsburgh 5
Final Shots: Dallas 19, Pittsburgh 30
The Stars return to Dallas, where they will host the Ottawa Senators on Friday. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. CST.