Penguins stave off Ducks’ shooting barrage to win in shootout
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Just when things looked their most bleak, the Penguins emerged with perhaps their grittiest win of the season.
Badly outshot most of the game against another Western Conference power, the Penguins barely kept pace with the Anaheim Ducks for most of the evening before mustering a 3-2 shootout victory.
“We were good late in the game,” center Sidney Crosby said. “We didn’t generate a lot early, but we sure did late.”
Evgeni Malkin’s goal evened the game midway through the third period. Brandon Sutter scored the shootout winner.
Crosby had a breakaway in overtime but was denied by Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller. He scored in the shootout.
The Penguins were outshot 31-17, but goalie Marc-Andre Fleury kept them in the game.
“It was a carryover from last night,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said, referencing the Penguins’ 5-3 loss Thursday in San Jose. “A lot of guys said their legs didn’t feel too good. But you’ve just got to grind your way through it, and that’s what we did. I don’t know if we were deserving of a point or of a win, but when you’re going back-to-back against two teams like this, you take it.”
For a team humbled during the final two periods in San Jose on Thursday, the Penguins didn’t come out with much jump against the Ducks.
Anaheim outclassed the Penguins early and often, taking the lead on Corey Perry’s goal 3:54 into the game.
“We got a lot of work early on our defensive zone coverage,” Orpik said with a smile.
Although Deryk Engelland’s sixth goal of the season — he scored on the Penguins’ first shot at the 7:47 mark of the first period — evened the game, the Ducks outpaced the Penguins for most of the rest of the game.
“Bit of a slow start,” Fleury said.
Anaheim had nine scoring chances in the first period. The Penguins had one.
The Ducks had a 12-3 shot advantage over the Penguins, who, similar to Thursday night, were sloppy with the puck. They had eight turnovers in the first period, including two apiece from Crosby and Chris Kunitz.
Midway through the second period, the Penguins were being outshot 19-4.
Then, something changed.
“We just stayed positive in here,” Sutter said.
The third period and overtime saw the Penguins on the attack.
Though they couldn’t generate much early, they skated fast, played more physical and dictated play in the final 20 minutes.
In overtime, only Hiller’s strong work kept the Penguins from clinching the victory before a shootout.
“Obviously, we didn’t play very well in the first period,” right winger Craig Adams said. “We let them take it to us. We were definitely on our heels. But we found a way to keep the puck out of our net, and as the game went on, we got better and better.”
The Penguins are taking Saturday off in Southern California before traveling to Washington for the start of back-to-back games with the Capitals on Monday and Tuesday. Another set of back-to-back games — this time against the Flyers — await next weekend.
“This is a big week ahead of us,” Orpik said. “We need to keep getting better.”