PITTSBURGH — Two-goal leads have become the Pittsburgh Penguins kryptonite. For the fourth time in the past three games, the Penguins squandered the lead. They won the last two but were not so lucky Monday night as the Anaheim Ducks billed the Penguins for 19 shots and three goals in the second period. Anaheim then held on to beat the Penguins 4-2 at PPG Paints Arena, Monday.
Anaheim perfectly executed a set play late in the second period for the game winner. Ryan Getzlaf won an offensive zone faceoff and quickly snapped the puck on the net. Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith made the initial save but Ondrej Kase beat Kris Letang to the juicy rebound and steered it across the goal line.
“(Getzlaf’s shot) was pretty tough to see. It came through a couple of bodies, a couple sets of legs. I caught it at the last second.”
Bryan Rust continued perhaps the greatest offensive hot streak of his career
Midway through the first period, the Penguins power-play flexed its muscle. Evgeni Malkin stepped forward into the left wing circle and snapped a shot through a Jake Guentzel screen and through Anaheim goaltender John Gibson.
Late in the first period, Rust scored again to give the Penguins a two goal lead. Rust, who had four goals in his past three games including a hat trick last Wednesday against Chicago, was uncovered in front of the Anaheim net as defenders focused on some guy named Sidney Crosby, who slipped a pass through defenders. From a tight angle, Rust stuffed the puck through Gibson on the short side.
Moments later, Rust also saved a goal for the Penguins. Anaheim winger Jakob Silverberg had a wide-open cage but Rust raced into the defensive zone and slid at full speed in front of the shot. Goal saved.
Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith followed Rust’s heroics with a pair of sparkling saves, too. DeSmith stuffed Nick Ritchie on the doorstep and made another highlight reel moment with a falling pad save on Ryan Getzlaf who was also uncovered in front of the net.
In the opening minutes of the second period, Anaheim got one goal back courtesy of a power play. Adam Henrique (7) beat DeSmith from the hashmarks. Recently former Penguins winger Daniel Sprong earned an assist.
Just three minutes later, Anaheim tied the game. This time they waited for their power play to expire before lighting the lamp. Fourth liner Keifer Sherwood took advantage of Penguins defenders generous spacing as Olli Maatta kept giving ground. Sherwood (4) unleashed a wicked wrister to tie the game.
Anaheim dominated the second period. Through the first 10 minutes, they outshot the Penguins 14-1, including nine shots on two power plays.
“A couple power plays helped,” said Jack Johnson. “And they played better than we did in the second period.”
Getzlaf added an empty netter to finish off the scoring.