A last-gasp flurry wasn’t enough, as the Penguins fell to the Ducks 2-1 Wednesday night at the CONSOL Energy Center.
The loss snaps a six-game winning streak for the Penguins, while Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau continues his regular season mastery over Dan Bylsma, improving his record to 13-1-3 against the Penguins coach.
The winner went to Teemu Selanne, streaking down the left wing, providing some of his patented flashy stick work, and beating Marc-Andre Fleury to complete the comeback from 1-0 down for the Ducks.
Jonas Hiller turned in a fine performance, saving 25 of 26 Penguins shots to earn the victory. Marc-Andre Fleury, similarly impressive, stopped 27 of 29 shots.
After a period of sustained pressure for the Penguins, Matt Beleskey hit Teemu Selanne with a sweet backhand pass, just as they crossed the Penguins’ blue line, and let Selanne do the rest.
Forehand, backhand, roof. Selanne’s goal has given the Ducks a 2-1 lead with just over five minutes of play remaining in the third.
The Penguins have perhaps looked to be the slightly better team, but the Ducks have threatened throughout. And proving that 40 is the new 20, Selanne, once again, proved why he’s one of the best pure scorers in NHL history.
The action has continued to move at a brisk pace, shots have piled up and power play opportunities have presented themselves. Yet, somehow, the Penguins razor-thin one-goal lead over the Ducks looked likely to hold through to the third period.
But it was all for naught as Corey Perry — of course — scored his 28th of the season with the first assist coming by way of Bobby Ryan — of course — with less than a minute remaining in the period.
The Penguins killed off two Duck power plays early in the period, while the Ducks similarly killed off a Penguin man-advantage later on in the period. Even then, only a post prevented the Ducks from knotting things up.
Marc-Andre Fleury continues to play solid, and has 20 saves on 21 shots so far. Jonas Hiller has 19 saves on 20 shots.
Penalties to Jordan Staal (hooking) and Evgeni Malkin (tripping) granted the Ducks an opportunity to get onto the board, but a sharp Marc-Andre Fleury proved up to the task as the Penguins killed off two Anaheim power plays.
Fleury has saved all 16 shots he has faced thus far, and looks up for the goaltenders duel that seems to be brewing here. Jonas Hiller, hot over recent weeks for the resurgent Ducks, has 15 saves on 16 shots thus far.
Jordan Staal’s 17th goal of the season, and second in three games since returning from injury on Feb. 11 has given the Penguins a 1-0 lead over the Anaheim Ducks after one period of play.
Staal took control of the puck on the right wing of the neutral zone after a simple chip up the boards from Pascal Dupuis, carried the biscut into the offensive zone and and beat Hiller with a sharp wrist shot.
The Penguins out shot the Ducks 13-8 in a period that was typified by fast, clean play and occasional highlights of offensive from a bristling Penguin offense.
One surprising statistic, almost to the point of anomaly, is an absurd 15-4 hit advantage for the Ducks over the Penguins, particularly surprising considering the Penguins’ typical physicality.
The Pittsburgh Penguins sit on top of the of the Eastern Conference despite being withoutSidney Crosby for much of the season. Evgeni Malkin has taken up the reins in Crosby's absence to lead the Penguins to six straight home wins, all the while coming in second in scoring in the NHL on the season so far. Thanks to two goals against the Lightning in their last game, Malkin has scored 17 goals in the past 17 games.
Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks are looking to snap a four game losing streak in Pittsburgh. The Ducks have not won in Pittsburgh since 2001 when they beat the Penguins 4-2. The Ducks are in the middle of an eight game road trip, winning two of their first three road games and winning two in a row.
The puck will drop for the game at 7:00 p.m. ET on Feb. 15 at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and will be shown locally on television on ROOT(HD).