PITTSBURGH — The tattered and torn Pittsburgh Penguins erased a two-game losing streak with a cathartic win on Wednesday night. In front of a national TV audience, the Penguins who lead the NHL in significant injuries received goals from fourth-liners and a player who was in the AHL without an NHL deal just a few days ago. After each Penguins score, the players roared their joy and the Penguins beat the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues 3-0 at PPG Paints Arena.
Jarry stopped 28 shots in the shutout win.
Teddy Blueger unleashed a double fist pump then another celebration after the fist-bump line at the Penguins bench. Just 39 seconds into the game, Blueger (3) gave the beleaguered Penguins a much needed feel-good goal when he deflected Marcus Pettersson’s shot past St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington.
“Teddy had a great game tonight. He scored a goal, but he did so much more,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. “He was good on the penalty kill (too).”
It was Blueger’s first goal since Oct. 22 and jump ignited an energetic first period in which the Penguins put 15 shots on goal and didn’t allow the first St. Louis shot for more than six minutes.
The Penguins had to tread water in the second period after taking a trio of penalties, but the next-man-up Penguins scored the only goal of the period. Stefan Noesen, 26, who had a short road back to the NHL before his call-up on Monday, continued his torrid offensive pace at the NHL level. Noesen had 22 points (14g, 8a) in 22 AHL games and scored in his first NHL game this season.
“It’s really fun to watch as a coach and watch how hard the guys are playing for one another,” said Sullivan.
Noesen (1) was alone in front of the St. Louis net and easily slipped Jared McCann’s rebound into an empty net. Noesen let out a howl befitting a player who didn’t have an NHL contract until this week.
The Penguins purge of emotional goal droughts continued into the third period. Less than five minutes into the third period, Sam Lafferty snared a turnover at the defensive blue line and sprung Alex Galchenyuk on a breakaway. Galchenyuk (2) chipped his shot stick side then let out his own cathartic howl.
Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry was quietly brilliant on Wednesday night. Jarry stoned Brayden Schenn who had a pair of open, Grade A chances. Jarry also politely declined St. Louis forward Ryan O’Reilly who exploited a seam in the Penguins PK for an open look from the slot early in the third period.
The Penguins did not sit on their lead in the third period, either. The Penguins kept St. Louis to just one shot in the first 12 minutes of the third period.
The only St. Louis goal was waved off after Jarry was knocked to the ice. The call was upheld via review after St. Louis challenged the call. Per the new NHL rule, St. Louis was also assessed a bench minor for the incorrect challenge.
Jarry stopped 28 shots for his fifth win of the season. His save percentage will climbed to .936 and his goals against averaged dropped to 2.02. Of note, the Penguins have rotated goalies over the last four games, stoking talk of a goalie controversy and Jarry’s play has done little to quell the talk.
“The guys are doing a great job making sure the pucks are coming from the outside. It makes my job really easy,” Jarry said. “As long as I’m managing the rebounds, it helps the guys a lot.”
Eight Penguins had a point on Wednesday night. Penguins stalwart defenseman Jack Johnson was scratched before the game due to illness. The Penguins third pairing became Zach Trotman with Juuso Riikola. John Marino played on the top pairing but Kris Letang moved over the left. After playing with four lefties for much of last season, the Penguins played with four righties on Wednesday night.
The Penguins were missing Patric Hornqvist, Bryan Rust, Justin Schultz, Nick Bjugstad, Johnson and Sidney Crosby.