EDMONTON — Secondary scoring carried the Pittsburgh Penguins to a fourth straight win on Friday.
Tristan Jarry made 26 saves and Jared McCann scored the eventual winner as the Penguins emerged with a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
Chad Ruhwedel, Joseph Blandisi, Kris Letang and Brandon Tanev also scored for the Penguins (21-10-4), who have won seven of their last eight games.
Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan was pleased to see goals coming from more than the top line.
“It’s huge, especially given the circumstances right now with the amount of injuries that we have to have different guys step up and contribute offensively for us is necessary if we’re going to continue to find the win column,” he said. “So guys are stepping up at different times and from a coaching standpoint, it’s been a lot of fun to watch because everybody’s been involved.”
Jarry agreed that it has been all hands on deck for the Pens of late.
“Every night we have a different group of guys stepping up,” he said. “That’s been the key for us, making sure we’re playing our game and playing to our systems and we get the timely goals that we do from different guys every night.”
Zack Kassian and Riley Sheahan responded for the Oilers (19-15-4), who have lost six of their last seven.
“Far too many games we’re chasing it, especially at home,” said Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom. “We can’t put ourselves in the situation where we have to score five or six goals to win a game.
“We won some games early in the year where we maybe shouldn’t have won and we’ve lost some when we played some pretty good games, but I guess that’s the beauty of the game.
“It’s not easy to play a team like Pittsburgh where you have to score three goals in the third period, you’re not giving yourself a chance.”
Edmonton has now lost 25 consecutive games when Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are both held pointless.
The Penguins scored eight minutes into the first period, as Oilers starter Mike Smith got a piece of a Ruhwedel point shot, only to see it slowly trickle behind him and into the net.
Pittsburgh made it 2-0 five minutes later when Zach Aston-Reese sprung Blandisi for a breakaway as he came out of the penalty box and beat Smith.
Edmonton got on the board seven minutes into the second period as Kassian tipped his 13th of the season past Jarry off of a Darnell Nurse shot.
The Penguins regained their two-goal edge with four minutes left in the middle frame when McCann picked off a pass and went in on a clear breakaway, beating Smith with a backhand deke.
The Oilers got a huge short-handed goal with 23 seconds left in the second as Sheahan elected to shoot on a 3-on-1 and capitalized.
Pittsburgh responded to that goal on the same power play 38 seconds into the third as Letang blasted home his ninth of the year.
Tanev put the game away with an empty-net goal.
Both teams are back at it on Saturday. The Oilers host the Montreal Canadiens and the Penguins head to Vancouver.
Notes: The Penguins came into the game 14-0-4 in their previous 18 games against the Oilers, last losing in regulation time to Edmonton on Jan. 10, 2006… The Penguins have been battling a number of injuries with Sidney Crosby (core muscle), Nick Bjugstad (lower body), Brian Dumoulin (lower body), Patric Hornqvist (lower body) and Justin Schultz (lower body) all out… Oklahoma State University star running back Chuba Hubbard, who hails from the Edmonton suburb of Sherwood Park, dropped the puck for a ceremonial faceoff at the game. Hubbard blazed to 1,936 rushing yards for the Cowboys this season, the second-most in a single season at Oklahoma State since NFL Hall of Famer Barry Sanders' NCAA-record season total of 2,850 in 1988.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 20, 2019.
Shane Jones, The Canadian Press