The Pittsburgh Penguins (26-10-5) looked lost and out of energy. Their third game in less than four days had the hallmark of one to forget, but the funny thing about the Penguins, like Goonies, they never say die. Trailing 2-0 to the Winnipeg Jets midway through the third period, and on the receiving end of far too many high-danger chances, the Penguins scored twice in nine seconds.
The dormant PPG Paints Arena crowd roared to life, just like their team. Tristan Jarry, stole one point with a myriad of nifty saves, including another stop on a Blake Wheeler breakaway in the closing seconds of OT to steal one point. Then he stopped all three shootout attempts.
Sidney Crosby scored in the shootout and the Penguins rescued their fifth straight win and 16th win in 18 games, 3-2.
The Penguins’ fierce rally and energy surge began in the third period.
Evgeni Malkin slipped past one defenseman at the Winnipeg blue line and used Kasperi Kapanen’s skate (9) as a backboard to give the Penguins a little hope.
Then Big Jeff Carter (12) swiped Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck’s clearing attempt and fired it into the empty net as Hellebuyck raced back to the net.
The Penguins’ listless play and power play foibles provided Winnipeg with at least four odd-man chances. If not for a few spectacular stops by Jarry the score would have been lopsided. Jarry kept the Penguins in the game long enough for a revival worthy of a midwestern cornfield. Jarry stopped no less than a half dozen off-man breaks and breakaways.
Injuries were the theme of the first period. The Penguins were healthy–a full boat–on Thursday. At the end of the first period, the Penguins were down six forwards, including four who left the game in the first period.
Teddy Blueger went off the ice while bleeding after Winnipeg defenseman Brendon Dillon crunched him on the end wall. The taller Dillon’s shoulder connected with Blueger’s face and Blueger left the ice.
Brock McGinn was hit on the mid-wall late in the first period by Winnipeg defenseman Nathan Beaulieu and left the ice. Penguins forward Brian Boyle fought Beaulieu, but himself was injured in the fight. Beaulieu called the officials to stop the fight and Boyle left the ice with his left arm across his knees.
Bryan Rust also made a locker room visit after teammate Jake Guentzel’s shot hit him in the upper body.
Meanwhile, goalie Tristan Jarry was brilliant. Jarry stopped several breakaways and a pair of two-on-one chances.
Everyone but Blueger returned for the second period. However, the team, as a whole, did not.
Jarry stopped 27 of 29, including overtime.
Hellbuyck stopped 36 of 38.
Winnipeg scored first, just a few minutes into the game.
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson was caught following the Penguins rush. When Jake Guentzel’s shot was blocked. Winnipeg transitioned for an odd-man rush. Blake Wheeler (2) slipped the puck past Tristan Jarry.
The Penguins had several golden chances, too. However, Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck was also very good including stopping Jake Guentzel’s breakaway and Evan Rodrigues on the doorstep after a two-on-one.
Midway through the second period, and nearly a dozen Jarry saves later, Kyle Connor (22) converted a Winnipeg power play with a razor-sharp top-shelf wrister from inside the left-wing dot.
Kris Letang played in his 900th game, making him the fourth player in Pittsburgh Penguins history (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Mario Lemieux) to do so.
Correction: The Penguins trail the division-leading New York Rangers by one point and vaulted past the Carolina Hurricanes for second in the Metro Division.