The Pittsburgh Penguins (26-12-5) bolted to a 3-0 lead then survived a seemingly endless Vegas Golden Knights (24-16-6) attack before Brandon Tanev scored a third period goal. The Penguins continued to survive a brutal schedule and a lengthy list of players on injured reserve as goalie Tristan Jarry outplayed former Penguins franchise netminder Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins survived with a 4-3 win at the T-Mobile Arena.
The Penguins had only 16 shots on goal.
“It certainly wasn’t the way we drew it up, that’s for sure but its a win,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “We weren’t at our best, but we got a great performance by Tristan (Jarry) in goal and we got some opportunistic scoring.”
The team looked tired and dead-legged on Sunday in their 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers. They immediately showed energy and urgency in the first period before fading late. Just seven minutes into the game, the Penguins had a two-goal lead.
First, Evgeni Malkin burned his friend, former teammate and Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Malkin (12) created an offensive zone turnover then finished the play when he pounded a backhand top-shelf over Fleury’s shoulder.
In the middle of the first period, the Penguins expanded the lead with a simple play. Fleury stopped defenseman Jack Johnson’s slap shot but Patric Hornqvist (10) beat defenders and buried the rebound.
As the first period wore on, the Penguins looked like the weaker team but were also able to get the next goal.
Early in the second period, Dominik Kahun (10) tucked a soft backhand through Fleury’s five-hole for a power-play goal.
Vegas dominated the remainder of the second period and outshot the Penguins 12-4 in the period and 25-12 after two periods. And Vegas earned the next two goals.
“Sometimes you have to give credit to the other team,” said Kris Letang. “They’re a hard-working team with a lot of skill.”
Max Pacioretty attempted 10 shots in the first 40 minutes and put seven of those attempts on net. A few minutes after Kahun scored. Pacioretty (19) was given credit for a goal after his long shot from the top of the zone hit defenseman Jack Johnson’s leg and deflected past Jack Johnson.
Later in the second period, Paul Stastny cut the Penguins lead to just one goal with a power-play tally. From the slot, Stastny (12) significantly deflected a point-shot past Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry.
Tuesday evening, Jarry was named to the NHL All-Star Game to replace injured Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo. Letang, who had two assists was also named to the Metro Division team to replace injured Penguins winger Jake Guentzel.
Vegas thoroughly dominated the Penguins in the second period and added more pressure later in the third period.
With just seven minutes remaining, Vegas forward Riley Smith chipped a puck past Jarry from the goal line. Jarry looked over his left shoulder to follow the puck carried by Chandler Stephenson who skated behind the net but Stephenson made a quick pass to Smith (17) who shot fluttered over Jarry before the goaltender saw it.
Vegas stormed the Penguins in the final minutes for the tying goal, including a power play in the final three minutes when Malkin took a tripping penalty and Vegas also pulled the goalie.
Jarry stopped 32 of 35 shots. It was also the 200th win of Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan.