An impressive third period powered the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Dallas Stars in a matchup of two conference points leaders. The Stars came to Consol Energy Center on Friday night with a four game winning streak and a league-leading 22 points. By the end of the third period, the Pens would once again hold that honor in this young 2011-12 season.
James Neal’s two power play goals clinched the victory for the Penguins. Neal would score with just over two minutes to go in the second, when a hard wrister trickled through the legs of Stars goali Kari Lehtonen and over the goal line. Neal’s second goal was a shot off the net but was steered in by a Stars’ defensemen for the go-ahead goal. It was his team-leading 11th goal, only one behind league leader Phil Kessel. Neal had an opportunity for the hat trick when Evgeni Malkin passed on a empty netter to look for Neal in front of the the net. The pass was broken up, however, and the Pens would settle for the 3-1 win. Malkin was magnificent all night alongside Neal.
Matt Cooke would ice it and give the Pens the two goal lead at 9:28 on a penalty shot. Cooke was tripped by Trevor Daley on a breakaway. The Pens have little time to enjoy the win over the Stars, as they hop on a plane and travel to Raleigh to face the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.