PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — The Penguins followed up a dreadful performance earlier this weekend with a bounce back effort to beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-1 Sunday afternoon at CONSOL Energy Center.
On Saturday, Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled in the second period as the Pens were shutout on home ice against the Montreal Canadiens. Also, Penguins general manager Ray Shero told the National Post that Jordan Staal was “horrible,” being a minus-2 with one shot on goal.
But Staal responded on Sunday with his fourth multi-point game of the season, going plus-2 in 18 minutes, 54 seconds – the most ice time among Penguins forwards.
Also, Fleury stopped 28 shots for the win, while Chris Kunitz scored two goals, Tyler Kennedy had three assists, Staal and Max Talbot had a goal and an assist each and Zbynek Michalek added a goal too.
With the win, the Penguins reached 40 victories (40-22-8) for the fifth consecutive season and moved to within three points of Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia.
Ryan Jones scored Edmonton’s only goal while Devan Dubnyk also made 28 saves in the loss. The Oilers completed a five-game trip that began with a win in Colorado but ended with four consecutive losses.
The Oilers – 27th in the NHL in goals – had only two shots in the first period, none in the final 12:40 despite a 5-on-3 power play that lasted 1:46 late in the period.
The kill of the two-man advantage sparked the Pens, who had scored only eight goals in their previous six home games.
Kunitz’s first goal made it 1-0 less than a minute after the 5-on-3 power play expired.
Edmonton played better in the second period as they outshot the Penguins 11-10. The Oilers had seven shots in the first 3:30 of the period.
However, the Penguins scored twice, beginning with Talbot’s eighth of the season 6:27 into the period on a partial breakaway set up by Pascal Dupuis.
Then, Staal made it 3-0 with 1:14 left in the second, slamming home a loose puck that was trickling toward an open net off a shot from Kennedy. It was Staal’s eighth of the season. Matt Cooke’s assist on the goal was his 300th NHL point.
But just 71 seconds into the third period, Fleury was denied his 19th NHL shutout when Jones scored to make it 3-1.
Michalek made it 4-1 though 7:52 into the third with assists going to Craig Adams and Talbot. It was the defenseman’s second goal of the season; he scored his first last Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres.
The Penguins were playing with only five defensemen because Matt Niskanen sat out due to flu-like symptoms.
Kunitz had the final goal of the game, giving him 20 this season. The goal, with 3:49 left, was the Penguins’ first in 23 power-play opportunities over six games, including six on Sunday.
The Penguins are 36-15-4 when Kunitz is in the lineup, 13-2-1 when he scores a goal, and 23-4-1 when he has a point.
Up next, the Penguins head to Ottawa for a game against the Senators Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.