February 5, 2023


Pittsburgh Penguins’ Rickard Rakell (67) fails to put a shot past Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson (36) in the first half of a game Thursday in Pittsburgh while Golden Knights Shea Theodore (27) defends.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins have no idea how long they have to play without Kris Letang. They may have landed on a formula for how to do without their star defender as he recovers from a stroke in a 4-3 comeback win over Vegas on Thursday night.

Shoot the puck. The whole time. From anywhere on the ice.

Jake Guentzel and Kasperi Kapanen scored less than two minutes apart in the third period as the Penguins edged past the Pacific Division-leading Golden Knights to win for the first time since Letang’s startling diagnosis.

While Letang was running at the team’s training facility on Thursday morning just three days after suffering his second stroke, there is no timetable for his eventual return. Letang’s teammates picked up the slack against Vegas, missing 47 shots from Golden Knights rookie goalie Logan Thompson, four of which found their way on him as Pittsburgh spun in two games.

“I think (we) were just trying to pull together and get a win for (Letang),” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said.

Guentzel’s power-play goal to make it 7:33 in game three ended the game at 3, and Kapanen’s first goal in almost two months 112 seconds later put the Penguins ahead for the first time. Tristan Jarry ended a 34-saver performance by weathering a late upset and winning for the fifth time in his last six starts.

Brock McGinn and Rikard Rakell also scored for Pittsburgh, which gave the Golden Knights only their second regular loss this season.

“I thought the boys fought really hard all night,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. “They didn’t get discouraged when they scored a couple of goals early in the game. They just kept playing.”

Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore’s long-range shot from the point, which made its way through a sea of ​​bodies before 1:26 into the third, broke a 2-2 tie, but the Penguins kept the pressure on Thompson until the Rookie finally relented.

Guentzel ended a 0-for-17 drought on Pittsburgh’s power play by firing a right circle shot through a well-placed Crosby screen and into the net to level the score. Kapanen, who has been floating in and out of the lineup due to his inconsistent play, scored his first goal since October 13 shortly after, when he collected a pass from behind Brock McGinn’s net and cheered it on from Thompson.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in the league who wants to be healthy (and doesn’t want to play),” Kapanen said. “I always want to compete with the boys. I want to fight out there.”

Thompson, November’s NHL Freshman of the Month, lost for the third time in 13 starts. Jack Eichel scored his 12th goal of the season for Vegas. Reilly Smith added his 10th.

“They were faster than us tonight,” said Smith. “It’s a bit of a wake-up call. We have to do better just picking up the pace, especially when you’re playing against a team like Pittsburgh.”

Capitalizing on Thompson’s precocious game, a resurgent acorn and the NHL’s best road record to the top of the Pacific Division, the Golden Knights countered effectively early on despite being overplayed for a long time.

Vegas wasted no time in sprinting into the lead, taking a 2-0 lead in the first half despite being overplayed for extended stretches. The Golden Knights countered effectively, with Eichel hammering home a goal from the front 3:59 into the game. Smith then ended Pittsburgh’s streak of 19 straight penalty kills with a nearly 17:59 snipe in the first.

It didn’t last. Pittsburgh’s pace paid off with two goals a second before a late surge gave them a welcome boost as they tried to find a way forward — at least in the short term — without one of their franchise cornerstones.

NEXT

Golden Knights: Visit Detroit on Saturday.

Penguins: Continue a five-game homestand Saturday night when St. Louis is visiting.

LIGHTNING 4, FLYER 1

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Steven Stamkos had an assist for his 1,000. Career point, Nick Paul scored two goals and the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday night.

Ian Cole had one goal and one assist, Ross Colton also scored, Corey Perry added two assists and Andrei Valilevsky made 21 saves. The Lightning won seven out of nine.

Travis Konecny ​​scored for Philadelphia. The Flyers went on a 10-game losing streak Tuesday night against the New York Islanders.

Stamkos, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft, assisted Paul’s second goal 7:55 of the second half that made it 2-0. Stamkos started the game with a pass behind the net to Cole, who sent the puck to Paul in front. Stamkos raised both arms in the air as the puck went in and the entire Lightning team rushed onto the ice to celebrate.

The Tampa Bay captain became the 95th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 points and the second member of the Lightning. He has played his entire career in Tampa Bay, where he won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021.

Robber, Devil 3, OT

NEWARK, NJ (AP) — Ryan Johansen scored his second goal of the game 33 seconds after overtime and Juuse Saros made 25 saves in Nashville’s win over New Jersey.

Johansen took a pass from Matt Duchene and beat goalkeeper Vitek Vanecek from the front.

Mikael Granlund tied it for Nashville with nine seconds left in regulation. Colton Sissons also scored for the Predators. Nashville has won seven straight games at the Prudential Center and sent the Devils to their second loss in their last 18 games (16-1-1).

Defenseman Kevin Bahl and forwards Jesper Bratt and Alexander Holtz scored for New Jersey in a 2:38 time span early in the second period.

AVALANCHE 6, SABER 4

BUFFALO, NY (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon had two goals and three assists, JT Compher also had two goals and defending champion Colorado beat Buffalo.

Artturi Lehkonen and Mikko Rantanen also scored for Colorado, and Alexandar Georgiev made 24 saves. The Avalanche won for the fifth time in seven games.

Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch, JJ Peterka and Dylan Cozens also scored for Buffalo.



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