This probably is not quite how the Pittsburgh Penguins envisioned this game playing out.
Not if they were going to win it, anyway.
They likely didn’t foresee that they’d fail to get a power-play goal after manufacturing two in each of the previous two games. Or that they’d record their third shutout of the season, despite having to use two goaltenders. Or even that Sidney Crosby would need an empty-net goal to stretch his scoring streak to six games.
Improbable as it seemed, however, that storyline played out in the Penguins’ 2-0 victory against Anaheim at Honda Center Monday night.
The win was their second in a row and lifted them to within one game of .500 (5-6).
The Penguins played the final 21-plus minutes of regulation without goalie Tristan Jarry, who stopped all 21 shots he faced before leaving the game after Ducks forward Adam Henrique appeared to make contact with him on the right side of the crease.
Jarry seemed to be bleeding above his right eye and went directly to the dressing room. He was replaced by Magnus Hellberg, who got into his second game this season and rejected the 11 shots the Ducks threw at him.
It was the fifth combined shutout in franchise history and the Penguins’ first since Marc-Andre Fleury and Tomas Vokoun did it on March 26, 2013.
Mike Sullivan, who coached his 600th regular-season game for the Penguins, did not provide any information on the precise nature or severity of Jarry’s injury.
Anaheim got the only power play during the first period, as Penguins center Lars Eller was called for tripping at 2:53.
The Ducks failed to capitalize, and were limited to two shots on Jarry while Eller was in the box.
Penguins forward Radim Zohorna got what proved to be the game-winner when he backhanded an Eller rebound off the right leg of Anaheim goalie John Gibson and into the net from behind the goal line at 12:34. Erik Karlsson got the second assist on that goal, Zohorna’s third of the season.
Anaheim finished the period with a 14-8 edge in shots, although it’s unlikely that either team placed undue emphasis on that stat. The Penguins, after all, had won both of the previous games in which they were outshot, while Anaheim started the evening 6-1 when giving up more shots than it generated, compared to 1-3 when it had an advantage in shots.
Ducks alum Rickard Rakell, who came into the game with a 13-game goal-less streak, nearly broke out of his slump about 4 1/2 minutes into the second period, when Evgeni Malkin set him up in the slot, but Gibson was able to deny him.
Malkin and Rakell teamed up on an even better chance at 10:13, as they had a 2-on-1 break. Gibson came through again, however, gloving Malkin’s slap shot from inside the right circle to keep Anaheim within a goal.
The Pittsburgh Penguins finally got a chance with the extra man when Ducks defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin was penalized for tripping Reilly Smith when play stopped after Gibson’s save. Just 15 seconds into that power play, Malkin picked up a tripping minor of his own, so the teams played 4-on-4 for 105 seconds before Anaheim got a brief power play of its own.
Mason McTavish held Malkin at 13:51 and, although the Penguins created some decent pressure while he was in the box, Anaheim’s Brett Leason had the best scoring chance while the Ducks were shorthanded. He got a breakaway after picking off an ill-conceived pass by Malkin, but failed to get his shot past Jarry.
Eller made his second trip to the penalty box when he was called for hooking at 16:13. The Penguins’ penalty-killers held off Anaheim again while Eller was off the ice.
Even though Jarry left the game with 1:36 to go before the intermission, the Penguins had to like the way they were playing, especially during the second period. They also presumably were aware that Anaheim had won three of the previous six games in which it was behind at the second intermission.
The Ducks came into the game on a six-game winning streak, and pressed hard for a tying goal for much of the third period. Noel Acciari seemed to put the game out of Anaheim’s reach when he scored into an empty net with 55.6 seconds to go, but that goal was disallowed after a video replay showed Jake Guentzel to be offside on the play.
Crosby subsequently sealed the victory by flipping a backhander into the empty net from center ice with 19.5 seconds left.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are scheduled to work out Wednesday at 3 p.m. Eastern at the Toyota Sports Performance Center, which is the Los Angeles Kings’ practice facility, in El Segundo, Calif.