Pietrangelo leads Blues over Pens in OT
PITTSBURGH -- A blown two-goal lead in the third period against the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins was not enough to deter the St. Louis Blues.
Get their full attention, sure, but not deter them.
“With those guys, it’s always going to be tough,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said after he scored his second goal of the game at 1:15 of overtime for a 5-4 St. Louis win in the teams’ season opener Wednesday night at PPG Paints Arena.
“Gave up the two goals, but we held it together on the bench. We knew we had a chance, especially if we got to overtime, and we did.”
Pittsburgh scored twice in the final seven minutes of the third period to force overtime.
On the winner, Pietrangelo moved in from the right point and used defenseman Justin Schultz as a screen to beat Penguins goaltender Matt Murray.
“I just needed to do a better job finding it through that screen,” said Murray, who made 29 saves. “I was just a little bit late picking it up.”
St. Louis goaltender Jake Allen stopped 29 of 33 shots.
Paul Stastny scored to give St. Louis a 4-2 lead and added an assist. Brayden Schenn also had a goal and an assist, and Vladimir Sobotka and Jaden Schwartz each added two assists.
Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist for Pittsburgh. Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust each added two assists.
Before the start of the contest, the Blues remained in the visiting locker room while the Penguins held their banner-raising ceremony with the Cup, complete with a laser show. That energy led to a strong start for Pittsburgh.
Crosby, under pressure, dug the puck out of the corner and fed Schultz at the top of the slot on the game’s first goal. Schultz sailed a shot over Allen’s glove at 6:37 of the first for a 1-0 Pittsburgh lead.
“We had a lot of excitement going after that (ceremony),” said Guentzel, who got one of his two assists on that goal. “I thought we started well, but we’ve got to have a full 60 minutes.”
St. Louis tied it at 1 when the puck went off Schenn’s right skate above the crease and slid inside the left post at 8:31. The play withstood a review to determine whether Schenn kicked it in.
The Blues took a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal at 17:45 of the first. Most of the skaters were involved in a scrum for the puck along the boards, and when it came loose it went to Colton Parayko -- who had drawn the tripping penalty to Olli Maatta -- alone in the slot. He rifled it past Murray.
“They get that second goal and we kind of faded a bit, but we showed good character coming back late,” Crosby said. “But, unfortunately, we couldn’t find a way to get the extra point.”
Maatta tied it 2-2 with a shot through traffic and under the crossbar from the left point at 12:37 of the second.
Pietrangelo restored St. Louis’ lead, 3-2, at 15:37 of the second during four-on-four play with a shot past Murray’s glove from a crowded slot.
Stastny upped the lead to 4-2 when he beat Murray to the stick side from the slot at 3:38 of the third before Pittsburgh’s comeback.
”We were on our heels a bit, and that always happens when you’re up a goal or up two goals,“ Stastny said. ”You tend to sit back.
“You’re playing the defending champs on their opening night. There’s going to be no quit in their game, but finding a way to get two points and getting that first win under our belt, I think, is huge.”
The Penguins drew to within 4-3 on Crosby’s five-on-three power-play goal on a rebound at 13:46 of the third, and tied it 4-4 on Conor Sheary’s one-timer from the lower part of the right circle at 14:40 after a cross-ice pass from Pittsburgh newcomer Greg McKegg.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan saw room for improvement on the part of the defending champs.
”I think we played hard; I don’t think we always played smart,“ he said. ”We gave up a number of chances off the rush. I think we gave up three goals off the rush.
“I do think the effort was there. I think the energy was there ... There was tons of energy in the building. There was a lot of excitement. We just have to get better at the details.”
NOTES: Pittsburgh D Kris Letang played for the first time since February and played a game-high 26:05. He had neck disk surgery in April. ... Pittsburgh RW Patric Hornqvist (offseason hand surgery) was placed on IR. It was initially hoped he would be ready for the opener. ... St. Louis opened the season with five players on IR: LW Alexander Steen (hand), D Jay Bouwmeester (ankle), C Robby Fabbri (knee), C Patrik Berglund (shoulder) and LW Zach Sanford (shoulder). ... Pittsburgh RW Tom Kuhnhackl played in his 100th NHL game. ... The Penguins scratched RW Josh Archibald and D Chad Ruhwedel. St. Louis scratched C Ivan Barbashev, C Wade Megan and D Nate Prosser.