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Karlsson’s OT Goal Gives Penguins 4-3 Win Over Canucks



The Pittsburgh Penguins did not play a perfect game in Vancouver Tuesday night.

They made some mental mistakes. Some physical ones, too.

Heck, they gave up a shorthanded goal for the third time in the past five games.

But they also played with resolve and commitment and focus, and an obvious appreciation of what was at stake in this game.

And they were rewarded with their most satisfying — and important — victory of the season.

Erik Karlsson scored the game-winner at 1:42 of overtime, throwing in a Lars Eller rebound from just below the right hash mark to seal the Penguins’ 4-3 win over the Canucks at Rogers Arena.

Although Karlsson made the headline play, Tristan Jarry might have been the player most responsible for this victory, as he stopped 32 of 35 Vancouver shots. More than a few of his saves were exceptional.

The victory was the Penguins’ third in a row and raised their record to 27-21-8.

Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust, who usually flank Sidney Crosby on the No. 1 line, are injured. Their spots were filled by Reilly Smith and Rickard Rakell, the latter of whom put up his first multiple-goal game of the season.

The Penguins had a chance to grab an early lead when Canucks defenseman Filip Hronek was penalized for holding Eller two minutes into the opening period, but they were able to generate just one shot on goalie Thatcher Demko before Hronek’s penalty expired.

Vancouver, who scored on just two of 30 chances with the man-advantage in its previous 10 games, was awarded a power play after Penguins defenseman Kris Letang launched a puck over the glass at 7:12. The Canucks were not credited with a shot on Jarry during the two minutes that followed.

They quickly made amends for that failure, however.

Vancouver winger Nils Hoglander capped an extended flurry in the Penguins’ end by throwing a rebound past Jarry from the inner edge of the right circle at 10:23.

That seemed to be an ominous development for the Penguins, considering that the Canucks are 28-9-3 when scoring the first goal.

The Penguins’ hole got deeper at 17:41, as Brock Boeser beat Jarry from inside the right circle during a power play. He scored 34 seconds after Erik Karlsson was penalized for slashing Penguins alum Teddy Blueger.

Penguins winger Jesse Puljujarvi, back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the previous three games, was assessed a tripping minor with 25.8 seconds to go before the intermission.

Crosby had four shots on goal during the opening period. The Pittsburgh Penguins’ other 17 forwards and defensemen accounted for five.

The Penguins killed the balance of Puljujarvi’s minor early, and sliced Vancouver’s lead to 2-1 at 2:13.

Rakell got the goal, taking a pass from Crosby and pulling the puck past Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers in the slot before sweeping a shot behind Demko for his seventh of the season and second in two games. Evgeni Malkin got the second assist.

Crosby’s assist made him the ninth player in NHL history to record 1,000 even-strength points.

Rakell struck again during a 5-on-3 power play at 9:36, as he set up near the left post and rapped in a pass from Crosby, who was in the right circle, to make it 2-2.

The tie lasted all of 29 seconds.

J.T Miller put the Canucks, who still were down a man, back in front when he poked the puck past Letang and broke in alone on Jarry before beating him high on the stick side. It was the eighth shorthanded goal the Penguins have allowed in 2023-24, and the second in three days.

Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson was called for high-sticking P.O Joseph, but the only memorable thing from the power play that followed was a mind-numbing drop pass by Karlsson that almost led to another shorthanded goal-against.

Squandering that power play could have been fatal to the Penguins’ chances of salvaging a point or two, but Lars Eller tied the game, 3-3, by beating Demko from inside the right circle at 9:45. Valtteri Puustinen and Letang earned assists on the goal, Eller’s 11th.

Boeser was called for hooking Karlsson at 12:58, but the Penguins could not manufacture a go-ahead goal that might have prevented overtime.

After the game, the Pittsburgh Penguins canceled the practice that had been scheduled for Wednesday afternoon on the campus of the University of British Columbia.