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Penguins lose 2-0 lead, fall to Oilers

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On Friday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins suffered only their second overtime loss of the season after blowing a 2-0 lead while falling at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers, 4-3. After killing their last seventeen power plays, the penalty kill was the Achilles heel for Pittsburgh in the later stages of the contest.

The only thing worth noting that occurred in the first period was that the clock malfunctioned and it took some time to rectify it. So let’s move on, shall we?

After a scoreless first period, the Penguins came out for the second looking to take the game over. Two minutes into the period, James Neal continued his recent hot streak, beating Devan Dubnyk after receiving a behind-the-net pass from Evgeni Malkin to put Pittsburgh ahead, 1-0. In five previous career meetings with the Oilers, Sidney Crosby registered seven points, but failed to score a goal. That would all change at the 7:55 mark of the period when Crosby took a back-pass from Brian Gibbons and looked for Chris Kunitz skating to the front of the net. The puck never got to Kunitz as it bounced off of Sam Gagner of the Oilers and past Dubnyk to give the Penguins a two-goal advantage. Brian Gibbons is becoming the poster child of “taking advantage of an opportunity.” The Penguins took their 2-0 lead into the locker room along with their 13-9 advantage in shots.

As dominant as the Penguins were on the scoreboard throughout the second period is how controlling the Oilers were in the third. Edmonton didn’t waste any time cutting the Pittsburgh lead in half. Fifty-three seconds into the period, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins took advantage of a carry-over power play from the second period, and snapped a shot past Jeff Zatkoff for his twelfth goal of the season and first of the game for the Oilers. A great pass from Jordan Eberle to find Nugent-Hopkins pinching in set up the goal. The Penguins were able to hold on to their one-goal lead until the halfway mark of the period. At 10:07, Taylor Hall increased his team lead in points when he pounced on a blocked shot from Nugent-Hopkins and slid the puck behind Zatkoff to tie the game at two. About two minutes later, Pittsburgh regained the lead thanks to a holding penalty on Nugent-Hopkins. On the man-advantage, Sidney Crosby won a faceoff in the Edmonton zone, and Kris Letang quickly snapped the puck on the net to put the Penguins up, 3-2. Edmonton refused to stay down. With two minutes remaining in regulation, the Oilers controlled the puck in the Penguins’ end concluding with Ales Hemsky being able to find Anton Belov along the blueline. With almost no pressure on Belov, the Russian defenseman fired a shot that found its way behind the Pittsburgh goaltender to tie the game once again. The tying goal was Belov’s first in the NHL. In the waning moments of regulation time, Brandon Sutter took slashing penalty against Justin Schultz, a penalty that would prove costly.

The Oilers started the overtime period on the power play, and they capitalized. A minute into the extra frame, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ended the game with his second goal of the night as Craig Adams failed to clear the puck from the zone. Jordan Eberle, once again, set-up Nugent-Hopkins’ game-winner with another fantastic cross-ice pass.

The Penguins don’t have any time to dwell on this loss as they travel to Calgary to conclude their Western Canada road trip Saturday night (10:00 pm/et; Root Sports, CBC).

Notes:

-The Oilers have too much talent to be sitting in the basement of the Western Conference (Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, Gagner, J. Schultz, etc.)

-Rob Scuderi had some choice words about the Penguins’ performance in Edmonton.

-The loss halts Jeff Zatkoff’s winning streak at seven.

-Marc-Andre Fleury most likely gets the start in Calgary.

-Does Zach Sill get a jersey in Calgary? We’ll see…

Three stars:

1. EDM C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2G, 1A)

2. PIT C Sidney Crosby (1G, 1A)

3. EDM D Anton Belov (1G)

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