PITTSBURGH (AP) — Phil Kessel scored a natural hat trick and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2 on Thursday night.
Vegas scored the first goal of the game, and Kessel had the next three — with the final two coming on second-period breakaways. It was Kessel’s sixth career hat trick and first in four seasons with Pittsburgh. His last hat trick came Feb. 1, 2014, as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, in a 6-3 win against Ottawa.
Jake Guentzel scored his third goal and Evgeni Malkin had three assists for the Penguins, who allowed 11 goals in their first two games.
Casey DeSmith stopped 35 shots in his first regular-season start for Pittsburgh. Starter Matt Murray missed Thursday’s game and is day-to-day with a concussion sustained Monday during practice. Murray participated in, and faced shots during, Thursday’s optional morning skate.
Reilly Smith scored his second of the season for Vegas and 100th career goal. Tomas Nosek also scored for Vegas, which lost its third straight and has opened the season with four losses in five games. The defending Western Conference champions lost their fourth game on Nov. 2 last season.
Malcolm Subban made 18 saves for Vegas. Marc-Andre Fleury, who spent 13 seasons and won three Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, served as the backup after allowing four goals on 28 shots during a loss Wednesday at Washington. Fans chanted for Fleury — selected in 2017 by Vegas in the expansion draft — after Subban allowed three goals on seven shots in the second period.
Nosek opened the scoring, taking a pass from Jonathan Marchessault along the boards and slipping a backhander behind DeSmith.
But Kessel answered for Pittsburgh when he beat Subban with a wrist shot following a Malkin faceoff win.
Kessel’s breakaway goal midway through the second put Pittsburgh in front for good. Malkin hit Kessel at center with a stretch pass from his own goal-line and he finished the breakaway with a glove-side wrist shot.
Kessel completed his hat trick with a second breakaway goal, similar to the first. This time, Carl Hagelin hit Kessel with a long outlet pass and he beat Subban low to the glove side.
Guentzel’s blocker-side wrist shot 57 seconds later on a backhand feed from Sidney Crosby gave Pittsburgh a comfortable three-goal lead through two periods.
NOTES: Vegas is 0-for-13 on the power play in five games. . Pittsburgh D Juuso Riikola made his NHL debut in place of D Olli Maatta, who was a healthy scratch. . The Penguins recalled G Tristan Jarry from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to back up DeSmith. Pittsburgh assigned D Derek Grant to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. . Tomas Hyka played on the third line for Vegas in place of Oscar Lindberg, who was a healthy scratch.
Vegas: Close a five-game road trip at Philadelphia on Saturday.
Penguins: Play their first road game at Montreal on Saturday.
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