PITTSBURGH — The injury bug continued to chew at the Pittsburgh Penguins (10-6-1), but so did their comeback string. The Penguins trailed by two goals late in the second period before their third straight multi-goal comeback forced overtime. Bryan Rust scored his fifth goal in seven games as the Penguins rallied from a 2-0 second-period deficit to force overtime and a shootout against the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday at PPG Paints Arena.
Jared McCann scored the shootout winner.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby apparently suffered an injury late in the second period, too.
It doesn’t seem to matter if the Penguins are playing well or poorly, the first period is most often scoreless. Such as again the case Saturday, though Penguins winger Dominik Simon ripped a shot over Chicago goalie Corey Crawford which first hit the crossbar, then the far post before bouncing away from the goal. Pittsburgh native and Chicago winger Brandon Saad also found iron behind Penguins goalie Matt Murray later in the first period.
The Penguins defensemen began to pinch more than Aunt Edna at Thanksgiving and it cost them dearly. After the Penguins injected life into the home crowd by killing off a two-man disadvantage, they yielded a four-on-one seven minutes into the second period. Jared McCann fell in the offensive zone and Justin Schultz pinched but came up empty.
On the resulting, odd-odd-odd-man break, Dominik Kubalik (4) poked it into a yawning cage.
Chicago scored again a few minutes later, again on an odd-man rush. Chicago All-Star winger Patrick Kane (6) whipped a wrist shot short side over Murray’s glove hand.
The Penguins seemed to come apart at the seems but an odd-man rush in their favor late in the second period stabilized the game. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin created a defensive zone turnover and two-on-one. He went wide towards the net which drew the defender and Crawford to Malkin, who slipped the pass to Jake Guentzel (8) alone in front.
“The last two games, we’ve really shown our character,” said Murray. “Coming back in both games, with strong third periods, shows a lot of resilience. Both of the last two games, the second period didn’t go our way and we didn’t let it deter us.”
For the first time in a couple of weeks, the Penguins didn’t dominate puck possession or shot attempts. After 40 minutes, Chicago led the shot clock 21-19, and the scoring chance counter 18-17. The teams each squeezed 31 shots through regulation and overtime.
Bryan Rust continued his torrent scoring pace since returning from injury, too. Rust scored his fifth goal in seven games and has points in seven straight after he buzzed around the offensive zone and Penguins defenseman found Rust alone near the net.
Murray turned away 29 of 31 shots. Crawford survived an accidental skate to the head from Alex Galchenyuk in the first period to also stop 29 of 31 shots.
The injury epidemic which has wreaked havoc on the Penguins lineup this season continued Saturday night. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was felled by an unknown injury. He did not play in the third period.
“He’s being evaluated for a lower body injury. We’ll probably have an update on Monday,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan.
The Penguins had not beaten Chicago in 10 attempts. The last Penguin’s last win over Chicago was March 30, 2014.