With an NHL-best 10-game winning streak now behind them, the Pittsburgh Penguins will roll into California this week looking to start a new run of success when they face the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.
In the Penguins’ first game outside of Pennsylvania since before the NHL’s extended holiday break, they fell 3-2 to the Dallas Stars on Saturday. It was the second game of a six-game road trip that started with a 6-2 victory at Philadelphia on Thursday.
The Penguins gave up two goals in the final five minutes Saturday to lose for the first time since Dec. 1. The game-winner for Dallas came when Roope Hintz camped out in front of the Penguins’ goal, found a loose puck outside the crease and dragged it into the net with 3:46 remaining.
Pittsburgh’s two-goal night came after they averaged 6.3 goals over their first three games since returning to play Jan. 2.
“It’s a game of momentum,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “Sometimes they have it, sometimes we had it. I thought we had it a fair amount in the first half of the game. I thought the third period, in particular, we got on our heels a little bit.”
The late collapse was completely out of character for the Penguins, who were 18-0-1 this season when heading into the third period with the lead.
“We’ve been playing some good hockey, so we have to look at what we can do better and move on,” said the Penguins’ Marcus Pettersson, who had an assist on a Kasperi Kapanen goal.
The surprise Ducks were in first place in the Pacific Division in the middle of December, but they are 2-3-2 over their last seven games. Anaheim is coming off a 4-3 shootout victory at home over the Detroit Red Wings.
Sunday’s game originally was scheduled to be played Thursday, but was moved because of the Ducks’ COVID-19 concerns. It was the second game of a back-to-back after Anaheim fell 4-1 to the New York Rangers on Saturday.
With goalie John Gibson in COVID-19 protocol and Anthony Stolarz in net the day before, Lukas Dostal made 33 saves and earned the victory in his NHL debut. The save total was a franchise record for a Ducks goalie in his debut.
“I was literally crying,” Dostal said. “It’s unreal. You’ve been dreaming about it since you were a kid. As you’ve been growing up, you’ve been watching all those players. You’ve been dreaming that you’re going to play one day in the NHL, and it happened. I’m just blessed. It’s just unreal.”
Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry and Max Comtois all scored goals for the Ducks, with Zegras and Rickard Rakell scoring in the shootout. The game also marked the return of captain Ryan Getzlaf, who had been in protocol since the start of the new year.
The Ducks still have five players in protocol and three on injured reserve, including forward Adam Henrique (lower body).
The Ducks’ youth movement continued Sunday with forward Brayden Tracey, the 29th overall draft pick in 2019, making his NHL debut along with Dostal. Five Ducks first-round picks from the last three drafts already have made their debut: Tracey, Zegras, Jamie Drysdale, Jacob Perrault and Mason McTavish.
–Field Level Media