PITTSBURGH — It took a full 40 minutes before fans at PPG Paints Arena were treated to multiple scoring chances and something akin to excitement. It was the Pittsburgh Penguins who finally attacked in the third period and put a digit on the scoreboard. Penguins de facto leader Evgeni Malkin executed a faceoff play and charged the net for the Penguins score. It was the goal that mattered as Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry completed his second consecutive shutout win.
In the great return of former Penguins winger Phil Kessel, the Penguins beat Kessel’s new team, Arizona 2-0 at PPG Paints Arena on Friday.
In the third period, the Penguins began to attack Arizona deep in the offensive zone. The game opened just slightly in the third period, but a set faceoff play which Malkin and Jake Guentzel have used multiple times in recent weeks worked again. Malkin pulled the offensive faceoff directly to Guentzel, whose shot caromed off the back all into the crease. Malkin (7) poked it through Raanta’s pads.
The Penguins started Jarry in net for the second consecutive game and were rewarded yet again. On a late Arizona power play, Jarry made a sparkling save on Clayton Keller to preserve the lead. Jarry stopped 35 shots for his seventh win of the season and he’s won five of his last six starts. Jarry’s scoreless streak is now
The Penguins supposed backup goalie has played on the front end of each of the last two back-to-back games and has played in four of the last five games. He made a game-saving stop against Clayton Keller when Arizona had a power play with just over seven minutes remaining.
“The puck was coming towards me and there was nothing I could do on the second one but try and sprawl out and luckily it hit me in the foot,” Jarry said.
Bryan Rust took a delay of game penalty with just over ten seconds left in the game, but Brandon Tanev (6) dunked home a selfless pass from Teddy Bleuger with seconds left to seal the deal.
Arizona netminder Antti Raanta was also very good. He stopped 25 of 26 shots in the loss.
The first 40 minutes were nothing anyone will remember, except for the video tribute to former Penguins winger, now Arizona alternate captain Phil Kessel.
Despite Kessel’s return, the first period was largely uneventful. With a pair of power plays in the first period, Arizona put 13 shots on Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry, but that total doesn’t count one hit post by Lawson Crouse. Jarry otherwise stopped a couple of Kessel wristers from the left-wing circle and Antti Raanta stopped a couple of chances by Penguins defensemen in the slot.
The tight systematic hockey continued into the second period. Arizona put only seven shots on Jarry, while the Penguins splurged for nine shots. Fortunately, a couple of mites scored on breakaways during intermission, so at least someone got the goal horn.
The scoreless middle frame included the Penguins five-on-three power play for nearly two full minutes. The Penguins managed only a couple of shots and Raanta deflected Evgeni Malkin’s one-timer off the post.
At least the arena played Cotton Joe. However, a D&D coffee at the barn is $5 (Dunkin media buyers, if you read this we’re available for an ad just like that on Pittsburgh Sports Now).
“Tristan was definintely our best penalty killer,” head coach Mike Sullivan said.
Arizona outshot the Penguins 33-26, in part because the Penguins gave Arizona five power plays. The Penguins PK which had slumped has been perfect in the last two games.