It was only one game for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and only two points in the Eastern Conference standings.
Still, they couldn’t have scripted the start of the second half of their season much better.
Their 3-0 victory over Seattle Monday afternoon at PPG Paints Arena cooled off one of the NHL’s hottest teams — Seattle had won its previous nine games, a franchise record — and extended the Penguins’ record in their past 16 games to 10-3-3.
It was their first-ever victory over the Kraken at PPG Paints Arena, where Seattle was playing for the third time, and pulled the Penguins out of a 0-2-1 skid on home ice.
While winning at home was something of a rarity for the Penguins, the formula they followed was predictable: Strong goaltending — Tristan Jarry made 22 saves to record his fifth shutout of the season, tying Arizona’s Connor Ingram for the league lead — and a couple of goals from Sidney Crosby, who now has 26.
Fourth-line center Noel Acciari, who had been a late scratch for the Penguins’ 3-2 overtime loss at Carolina Saturday, rejoined the lineup, bumping Colin White into street clothes, while Seattle’s lineup was somewhat diluted by injuries, as center Matty Beniers. defenseman Vince Dunn and and winger Andre Burakovsky were not available for coach Dave Hakstol.
What’s more, Adam Larsson, who averages nearly 24 minutes of ice time per game for the Kraken, left the game in the first period because of illness. He played four minutes and one second before departing.
The Penguins, who had gotten awful starts in each of their previous two games, had a solid first period against the Kraken, running up a 12-6 advantage in shots.
Seattle goalie Joey Daccord stopped all of those shots, only one of which came while Kraken right winger Kailer Yamamoto was serving a minor for interfering with Evgeni Malkin at 13:12. That shot came from Kris Letang, who launched a harmless one from the red line six seconds before Yamamoto’s penalty expired.
The Penguins didn’t need long to get on the scoreboard in the second, however.
Just 49 seconds after play resumed, Bryan Rust and Drew O’Connor capitalized on a 2-on-1 break against Penguins alum Brian Dumoulin, whose return had been marked by a tribute video during the opening period.
Rust, inside the left circle, slid a cross-ice, backhand pass to O’Connor, who beat Daccord from the inner edge of the right circle. Evgeni Malkin got the second assist on the goal, O’Connor’s career-high sixth.
The Penguins have been victimized numerous times this season by letdowns after scoring a goal, but that wasn’t an issue this time.
Crosby gave them a little breathing room at 3:32, when he hammered a shot past Daccord from above the right dot for his 25th. Assists went to Letang, who fed the puck to Crosby from the left point, and Rickard Rakell.
The Kraken got a chance with the man-advantage when Malkin was sent off for high-sticking at 10:11, but managed only two shots on Jarry before Malkin returned.
Even so, Seattle did begin to generate momentum as the period progressed, although it was unable to cut into the Penguins’ lead.
The Penguins’ penalty-killers were tested again when Jansen Harkins was called for interference at 4:28 of the third, and they teamed with Jarry to prevent the Kraken from scoring.
The Penguins’ power play, which had been 0-for-4 in each of the previous two games, could not take advantage of a chance to put the game away when Kraken winger Eeli Tolvanen was penalized for boarding Chad Ruhwedel at 11:06.
Crosby, though, settled the outcome when he scored into an empty net at 17:39, after Daccord had been replaced by an extra attacker. Rakell and Erik Karlsson got assists, extending Karlsson’s points streak to seven games.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are scheduled to have a day off Tuesday, then practice Wednesday at 11 a.m. at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex before traveling to Las Vegas ahead of their game against the Golden Knights Saturday.