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PITTSBURGH (AP) – Phil Kessel found a way to upstage Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid.
The Pittsburgh forward raced down the slot and beat goalie Cam Talbot 42 seconds into overtime to give the Penguins a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.
Ian Cole scored his first goal of the season for the Penguins, and Matt Murray stopped 29 shots. Crosby was held without a point in his showdown with McDavid, but the Penguins rode their depth to keep the struggling Oilers in check.
McDavid forced the extra period with his first goal in seven games, a wrist shot with 2:53 left in regulation that tied it. Talbot played brilliantly at times while making 42 saves but couldn’t get a handle on Kessel’s winner.
The central figures in the biannual meeting between the best players of their respective generations tried to downplay the hype. Probably a good idea. For all the star wattage Crosby and McDavid bring, their respective teams have spent the opening weeks of the season trying to figure things out.
Edmonton is trying to build off the franchise’s first playoff appearance in 11 years but came in as the lowest-scoring team in the Western Conference, averaging all of two goals a game.
The Penguins have been wildly erratic as they eye becoming the first team in 35 years to win three straight Stanley Cups. The first three weeks included a 10-1 loss to Chicago and a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Tampa Bay, performances that cost backup goalie Antti Niemi his job. The Penguins waived him on Monday and called up rookie Casey DeSmith to serve as Murray’s understudy. Pittsburgh also acquired Riley Sheahan from Detroit and tasked him with anchoring the third line in the same way Nick Bonino did so effectively before signing with Nashville over the summer.
There was a definitive buzz – at least what passes for buzz in October – as Crosby and McDavid skated to center ice for the opening faceoff. But both players, and just about everyone else, spent most of the night being stoned by the goalies.
Talbot stuck out his left pad to stuff Kessel on a wide-open backhand early in the second to keep the game scoreless. Murray put together a dazzling sequence later in the period, sticking his paddle out to knock Mark Letestu’s shot out of harm’s way. The sequence ended with Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin scrambling to the goalmouth to knock away a flip to the open net by McDavid.
Cole, wearing a full shield for extra protection after losing several teeth when he blocked a shot with them earlier this month, beat Talbot with a wrist shot that zipped by Talbot’s blocker 3:24 into the third. Sheahan picked up the secondary assist for his first career point for someone other than the Red Wings.
It appeared that might be enough until McDavid, at the end of a long shift, found one last burst. He extended to catch up with a pass and fired a wrist shot from the left circle over Murray’s glove.
NOTES: Pittsburgh D Justin Schultz left in the first period after getting tripped by Edmonton’s Drake Caggiula and did not return. … Edmonton scratched forwards Jussi Jokinen and Anton Slepyshev, and D Eric Gryba. Pittsburgh scratched D Zach Trotman and forwards Josh Archibald and Thomas Di Pauli.
Oilers: Begin a five-game homestand Thursday against Dallas.
Penguins: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.
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