The Pittsburgh Penguins came to Dallas on Saturday afternoon riding the crest of an NHL-best ten-game winning streak. However, the Stars sent the Penguins home with a new one-game losing streak following a 3-2 come-from-behind Stars victory.
The Penguins (20-5-9) led the game for almost the entire contest at the American Airlines Center, where over 17,000 fans were in attendance.
The Stars had goalie Jake Oettinger in the net. He was Dallas’s first-round pick in 2017, and this game was his tenth start of the year and thirty-fourth of his NHL career. Oettinger was tested early and gave up two goals, within twenty-five seconds of each other, early in the first period to give the visiting Penguins a 2-0 lead.
“After the first period, I think it just seemed to me we were given them a little bit too much respect,” Stars head coach Rick Bowness said after the game. “I think in the second or third, we started to play Dallas Stars hockey against them instead of being more aggressive.”
The aggression Bowness talked about included a brawl between Stars’ right-winger Alexander Radulov and Pittsburg’s Mark Friedman. The crowd at the game erupted in shouts and applause as the two men each skated to their team’s penalty boxes.
At the 16:01 mark, the Stars finally reached the scoreboard. Denis Gurianov attempted to pass to a teammate inside the Penguins’ blueline. Still, the pass ricocheted back to the Gurianov, who cranked a shot above Pittsburg goalie Tristan Jarry’s left shoulder to light the goal lamp and cut the score to 2-1. The goal was Gurianov’s sixth this season, and Jacob Peterson (2) and Jason Robertson (16) each notched an assist for it.
With over five minutes to play in the third period and down a goal, Robertson rifled a shot at Jarry, and the puck trickled in front of the Penguins goalie. Joe Pavelski positioned himself in front of the net and quickly swept the puck into the goal to tie the game at 2-2.
“There was no panic on the bench,” coach Bowness said of the early deficit. “We just knew we had to get the next one. We knew we couldn’t give them anymore, but there was no panic. We’re playing really well at home. We’re a confident group right now.”
The goal was number thirteen this season for Pavelski, whileJohn Klingberg and Robertson picked up their sixteenth and seventeenth assists of the season, respectively.
It was 90 seconds later that Roope Hintz would score what proved to be the game-winning goal for the Stars. Robertson and Miro Heiskanen rushed the Pittsburg zone following a Penguins turnover. Robertson fired a shot that Jarry knocked down. Heiskanen tried to scoop the puck with his stick and pitch it over Jarry’s head as the goalie fell forward. Jarry knocked the Heiskanen shot down, but Hintz had positioned himself behind the goalie and quickly pushed the shot in for the game-winning goal. Hintz’s goal was his thirteenth of the season. Robertson picked up his eighteenth assist on the play, and Heiskanen notched his sixteenth.
After giving up the two early goals to Pittsburg, Oettinger was stout in the net, stopping 27-of-29 shots and running his record to 8-2-0 on the season.
The win pushed the Star record on the year to 17-12-2, good for a total of 36. The Stars are in sixth place in the Central, 12 points behind first-place Nashville. The January 8 game was the second the Stars have played this week after a 17-day absence from the ice following Christmas break and problems with the team and staff due to COVID-19 protocols.