PITTSBURGH (AP) – Alex Pietrangelo beat Matt Murray 1:15 into overtime to give the St. Louis Blues a 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams.
The Blues recovered after letting a two-goal, third-period lead slip away when Pietrangelo’s shot from the slot hit Murray and slipped under the crossbar for his second goal of the game.
Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist for the Blues, Brayden Schenn and Colton Parayko also scored, and Jake Allen finished with 34 saves.
Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary scored 54 seconds apart in the third to tie it, but the Penguins couldn’t complete the comeback on a night the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions raised the franchise’s fifth Cup banner to the rafters at PPG Paints Arena. Justin Schultz and Olli Maatta also scored for the Penguins. Murray stopped 28 shots.
Just 115 days after finishing off a heated challenge from Nashville in the finals, the Penguins began the quest for the first three-peat in 35 years with one last nod to the franchise’s fifth championship.
The players received their commemorative bling during a private ceremony on Tuesday night, coming together to pose with their respective nine-carat rings that feature nearly 400 diamonds and come engraved with coach Mike Sullivan’s mantra “play the right way.” On Wednesday the party grew considerably larger, with the 485th consecutive home sellout roaring during an electric pregame ceremony that included Crosby skating to mid-ice with the Cup held aloft and the 2017 banner making its way to the rafters to join the four that came before it.
Then the puck dropped, the adrenaline faded and the reality Pittsburgh faces at it chases history hit. The Penguins were able to keep the roster nearly intact following their 2016 title. This time around they’ll be forced to go without Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Cullen, Chris Kunitz, Nick Bonino and Trevor Daley, all of whom moved on over the summer.
Finding out how the new pieces fit together will take time. The proof came during three uneven periods against the Blues, who wasted little time putting a damper on the party-like atmosphere.
Schultz opened the scoring with a shot from the point that sailed through traffic to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
The advantage lasted less than two minutes. Schenn redirected Carl Gunnarsson’s pass off his skate and by Murray to tie it. Parayko put the Blues in front with 2:15 left in the first with a laser from the high slot. Maatta’s goal – a near carbon copy of Schultz’s – evened things just past the midway point but St. Louis kept on coming.
Pietrangelo worked himself free in the high slot and beat Murray high with 4:23 left in the second. When Stastny ripped a shot past Murray’s blocker 3:38 into the third, St. Louis was in firm control.
Or so it seemed. Robert Bortuzzo and Schenn were hit with penalties 16 seconds apart with less than 8 minutes to go, and the Penguins pounced. Crosby jammed home a rebound, and Sheary finished off a crossing pass from Greg McKegg to knot it at 4.
Blues: Host Dallas on Saturday night.
Penguins: At Chicago on Thursday night.
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