(PHN) — The Pittsburgh Penguins (7-5-0) were trapped at the perimeter against the Dallas Stars (4-8-1) Saturday night. It wasn’t for lack of effort or desire, but the ice was more crowded than the Ft. Pitt Bridge outbound on Friday afternoon. The Penguins had just 11 shots through 40 minutes but plenty of offensive zone time. Things dramatically changed in the third period as the Penguins crashed the net and Dominik Kahun scored his first Penguins score when he cleaned up the garbage seven minutes into the third period.
The Penguins beat Dallas 2-0 at American Airlines Center and snapped a three-game losing streak. The Penguins outshot Dallas 16-3 in the third period and eventually won the shots battle 27-25.
“It’s great. It’s great for Dom Kahun. We’ve felt like he’s been all around it the last handful of games,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s had a lot of chances and the puck hasn’t gone in for him. That’s a big one for us tonight.”
Bryan Rust (1) also scored his first goal of the season and rookie Penguins defenseman John Marino scored his first NHL point midway through the third period. Marino blasted a shot from the point, and Rust skated the rebound around the net and beat Dallas goalie Ben Bishop to the opposite post.
Rust and center Nick Bjugstad were activated from the IR before the game and played his first game this season after being injured in the final Penguins preseason game.
“Rusty brings that speed dimension. He’s’ hard to play against. He’s tough on defensemen and he forces turnovers,” said Sullivan.
Brandon Tanev (3) scored the empty-net goal to end any doubt.
Not even the posts got a work out as Dallas made the game tight checking. Instead, injuries and potential injuries were the stories of the night. Dallas defenseman Esa Lindell was struck by a deflected shot and had to wear a full face shield for the remainder of the game. Dallas defender Taylor Fedun was struck by a deflected shot in the second period. And the Penguins got a big scare when captain Sidney Crosby was felled by a deflected shot to his head at the end of the second period and did not join the team for the start of the third period.
Crosby did join the team several minutes into the period and finished the game without further incident.
“You’re always concerned when someone gets hit with a shot like that, but he was able to come back in the game. He was evaluated by the doctors,” Sullivan said. “We’ll continue to evaluate him.”
The Penguins were also forced to shuffle their defense pairings as defenseman Brian Dumoulin remained out due to injury. The Penguins paired young defensemen Juuso Riikkola with rookie John Marino. They also put Jack Johnson with Kris Letang on the top pairing. The PHN report card will publish at 6 a.m., but all involved received good grades. PHN+ will also publish a shift-by-shift analysis of the Riikola-Marino pair.
The Penguins had just 11 shots in the first two periods but had 16 in the third period.
Dallas pulled their goalie with three minutes remaining.
Penguins goalie Matt Murray stopped 25 shots for his 11th career shutout and first of the season.