The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated nearly all of the first 40 minutes. Nearly. And they had the better for most of the third period, too. The Penguins reached the 40-shot mark later in the third period and greatly outchanced St. Louis, but their two-goal lead slipped away.
Despite endless opportunities, the Penguins could not light the lamp behind St. Louis goalie Ville Husso for the third time in regulation.
The Penguins outshot St. Louis 41-21 in regulation, and according to NaturalStatTrick.com, outchanced them 35-14. The Penguins had four more shots in overtime.
However, the teams needed overtime. And four rounds of a shootout. Bryan Rust scored the only shootout goal, and the Pittsburgh Penguins won 3-2. They closed to within four points of Carolina in the Metro (Carolina has two games in hand) and took sole possession of second place ahead of the New York Rangers.
St. Louis charged early in the third period, and the Penguins lost their bearings for a few minutes. After Evgeni Malkin won a defensive zone faceoff, Pittsburgh native Brandon Saad stole the puck from Chad Ruhwedel and slipped a little pass near the crease for Ivan Barbashev (19), who gained position on Marcus Pettersson.
The Penguins’ dominance and 2-0 lead was suddenly a tied game. Evgeni Makin’s interference penalty midway through the third only added tension. However, Barbashev slashed Penguins winger Bryan Rust two minutes after Malkin’s penalty.
The Penguins bombarded the front of the net on their power play, but no goal.
The first period didn’t start well for the Penguins, but they used the rocky start for an extended surge. Only nine seconds into the game, defenseman Kris Letang whistled a puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. And 26 seconds later, center Jeff Carter high-sticked David Perron.
Defenseman Brian Dumoulin shined on the penalty kill, and Tristan Jarry stopped all three shots on the 90-second 5v3 St. Louis power play.
The Penguins quickly gained their stride and played the first period at full speed. Evan Rodrigues led all players with three shots on goal, though the one he didn’t take was costly. He tried to force a pass to Sidney Crosby on a two-on-one midway through the period.
Chad Ruhwedel scored the lone goal of the first period. In the process, Ruhwedel set a career-high with his third goal of the season. Jeff Carter won an offensive zone faceoff, Radim Zohorna went to the net, and Husso didn’t see Ruhwedel’s (3) shot from the blue line.
Edit: The initial version credited Evgeni Malkin with the faceoff win.
The second period was almost exclusively the Penguins’ period. In the first 15 minutes, the Pittsburgh Penguins outshot St. Louis 16-2. Defensemen John Marino and Mike Matheson were especially good with the puck.
Matheson took advantage of tired St. Louis Blues trying to change. Midway through the second period, Matheson (9) zipped past defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and ripped a wrister from the left-wing circle for a 2-0 lead.
However, the Penguins didn’t bury the Blues.
David Perron flew the zone late in the second period and got behind Matheson. Perron (18) swept past Matheson, across the crease, and roofed a shot over a sprawled Tristan Jarry.
After 40 minutes, the Penguins were outshooting St. Louis 26-14 but led only 2-1. Matheson led all players with four shots on goal after two periods.
Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry was as good as Husso.
“He’s a great kid. He really prides himself on his game and I just I have so much admiration for how he’s approached this whole season. (Jarry) has a certain look in his eye that he’s determined to prove people wrong, that he’s a legit No. 1 goaltender in this league. We believe in him and he’s done a great job for us,” Sullivan said.