PITTSBURGH — For the ninth time in 14 games, the Pittsburgh Penguins needed overtime. After Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry stopped Calgary Flames star Johnny Gaudreau on a breakaway in overtime, Jake Guentzel (12) snapped a wrist shot past David Rittich and the Penguins finally won an overtime game as they beat Calgary 3-2 Monday night at PPG Paints Arena.
It was a tough slog for the Penguins (13-7-4). After an emotional week with three four-point games in which they lost twice to division rival New York Islanders twice in overtime then decimated the New Jersey Devils, the team wasn’t sharp against their struggling Western Conference opponent, Calgary (11-12-4). Neither team had their best, but Penguins winger Alex Galchenyuk finally scored his first goal as a Penguin.
“Were thrilled for him. To get that first one is a bit of relief for him,” said Mike Sullivan. “As I’ve said, it’s not been a lack of effort.”
Some nights, not even the people on the Kiss Cam are paying full attention.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan also began what could be the annual early-season goalie-battle when he started Jarry over Matt Murray. It was Jarry’s sixth start of the season and first in a non-back-to-back situation. Jarry stopped 32 of 34 and improved to 4-3-0.
Later in the first period, it finally happened. One day after discussing the slump with PHN, Galchenyuk finally popped his first goal. After a lackluster first period by the Penguins in which they were outshot 10-1 in the first 10 minutes, they used a power play to gain some life. Then Galchenyuk finally got over the hump. Dominik Kahun fired a shot off Calgary goalie David Rittich and the rebound bounced into the slot, right to a charging Galchenyuk (1) who buried the rebound.
His celebration had just a little extra noise and ended a 14 game goalless drought to begin the season and his Penguins career. After two scoring changes, the goal was officially classified as a power-play goal.
In the first period, the Penguins defensive zone coverage was often coverage in name only. Several Calgary players were left uncovered near Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry, who earned the start ahead of Matt Murray after Jarry’s stellar performance Saturday in the win over New Jersey.
Seven minutes into the game, Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson covered Calgary winger Dillon Dube around the offensive zone but peeled off towards the blue line, No one else picked up Dube and he went straight to the net. From about 10 feet, Dube (1) ripped it past a powerless Jarry.
Galchenyuk and Brandon Tanev chased the puck in the offensive zone to create a turnover early in the second period. Penguins center Jared McCann (9) was the recipient of the turnover and his wrister from the slot beat Rittich.
However, the Penguins PK failed to cover anyone later in the second period. After defenseman Zach Trotman was whistled for tripping, the Penguins PK allowed Sean Monahan not one but two clean shots from point-blank-range. Monahan missed the first one but Matthew Tkachuk immediate got the puck back to him. Monahan (6) didn’t miss the second try.
Rittich stopped 35 of 38 shots for Calgary.
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang played in his first game since Nov. 4 when he was injured against the Boston Bruins. Letang quarterbacked the Penguins power play and played over 25 minutes.