The Pittsburgh Penguins blew a 2-0 lead to a tired Dallas Stars, which played the previous night. The teams finished 65 minutes of hockey with fans on their feet before the Stars won in a shootout, 4-3.
Unfortunately, a great skating, gritty game with plenty of offensive chances was decided by a shootout. Justin Schultz scored in the waning seconds, with Matt Murray pulled for the extra attacker, to give the Penguins an important point but the Stars owned most of the last two periods.
The Penguins third line chipped in some offense, Friday. Stars center Jason Spezza and the cement in his skates opened the door for Riley Sheahan to score a breakaway goal.
Stephen Johns (insert obligatory Wampum, PA reference) stepped up to hit Zac Aston-Reese and keep the play alive. Aston-Reese showed strength and held his ground to deflect the puck to center. As Johns stepped forward, Spezza coasted, but Sheahan did not.
At the very end, Bryan Rust pulled back to give Sheahan a clear shot at Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen. 1-0.
Nearly two minutes later, the Penguins penalty killing unit flexed its muscle. The unit has been one of the best in the league since an awful stretch ended in late November. Ian Cole (not shown) blocked a shot and made a strong clearing attempt.
The Stars regrouped, but watch Carl Hagelin read the play. Don’t take your eyes off of him–watch his anticipation. He waited for John Klingberg to make the pass to Tyler Seguin in the left wing circle, like a hungry human waiting for a steak dinner. Klingberg didn’t make the pass with urgency, and Hagelin’s speed allowed the defensive play to become a breakaway goal. 2-0.
The Stars got back in the game when Tyler Seguin beat Sidney Crosby to the net. Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak followed Brian Dumoulin behind the Penguins net, which created backside space. Watch the behind the net view; it shows Seguin raced for the net before Crosby spotted the emptiness. Seguin won the race to the net as Radulov won the puck battle against both Penguins defensemen. 2-1.
Matt Murray wanted back the Stars second goal but note all five Penguins below the dots. The Stars defensemen are traditionally skilled, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see Klingberg lead NHL defensemen scoring. Klingberg was able to step the circle and get a good shot. Unfortunately for the Penguins, Carter Rowney was not able to cut off the center pass, then attempted to block the shot but could not. In the words of Matt Gajtka, Rowney made a better door than a window. 2-2.
The Stars gained a 3-2 lead on a long-range Dan Hamhuis shot, but Murray was without a stick. Olli Maatta skated past and tangled with Murray’s stick. Bad luck.
The Penguins tied the game with 1:13 remaining. With the extra attacker on the ice, the Stars defense collapsed low. Schultz took advantage of the space, stepped forward to the left wing circle and blasted it past Lehtonen. Schultz has been absent from the stat sheet for too long. It was Schultz’ first point in five games and first goal since November 7th.
The Penguins need more plays like this from Schultz. 3-3.