PITTSBURGH — The league’s brightest young star, Connor McDavid stood at center ice, nothing between him and Penguins goaltender Matt Murray. Down 2-1 at near the end of the second period, McDavid used his prolific speed zip past Penguins defenders to earn the penalty shot. McDavid swung wide then bore down on Murray. It was the moment for the Oilers to tie the game and it was gone into the Murrays trapper like so many other chances, Wednesday night.
The Penguins held on to beat the Edmonton Oilers, 3-1 at PPG Paints Arena. They are 6-0 against Edmonton since the arrival of Connor McDavid.
But the night didn’t start well for Murray and the Penguins.
After his 50-save night against the Flyers on Monday, it took the Oilers just three shots to get a goal past Matt Murray as Edmonton’s dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl continued their impressive play this season.
In the midst of his first career 30-goal season, Leon Draisaitl took the perfectly timed pass from McDavid, who used his speed to initiate the breakaway, to send home his 33rd goal of the season.
The score tied Draisaitl with notable scorers Patrick Kane, Brayden Point and John Tavares for 3rd in the league’s goal totals.
The Penguins best shot at a rebuttal came with under seven minutes left on a breakaway that saw the puck bounce off Guentzel’s stick and go just wide of the left post with a clear path to the net.
In a deja vu moment for the Penguins defense, the Oilers created an almost identical look from their first goal with McDavid and Draisaitl on the rush. This time, McDavid took the shot himself, but Murray read the play and made the tough stop to keep the score at 1-0 at the end of the first period.
Bryan Rust turned the tides in the second period on a shorthanded goal at the very beginning of the second period.
After Rust missed his first attempt at the shorthanded goal, Matt Cullen kept the possession alive and gave the puck back to Rust behind the net. Rust took the pass and snuck the puck just past the right blocker of Mikko Koskinen for the equalizer.
“First off, it’s kind of embarrassing. I stayed with it and I was able to sneak it in there,” Rust laughed.
The momentum continued to carry as the Penguins scored off a goal that had a little bit of puck luck with it. Kris Letang flung a pass from behind the net which bounced off the right post and almost conveniently to Teddy Blueger right in front of Koskinen. Blueger sent in his third goal to continue his impressive play since the call up to Pittsburgh.
Crosby earned his 42nd assist and his 66th point on the score, good for 12th in the NHL.
“When teams do have possession in the O-zone for an extended period of time, we’re doing a good job of limiting things to the outside and protecting the inner slot area,” Bryan Rust said.
The Oilers had their chance to even the score and silence the crowd at PPG Paints Arena. Draisaitl fired a perfect pass to the speeding McDavid who was slashed before he could get the shot off. The call from the referees on the play, a penalty shot.
But after his early goal allowed, Matt Murray stepped up in the game’s most crucial moment, keeping one the league’s biggest playmakers off the scoreboard and the Penguins in control of the game late in the second period.
“I thought we got better and better as the game went on,” said Matt Murray.
Jared McCann added a long-range empty netter to finish off the scoring.