In a game between the first place team in the East and the last
place team in the West, with the Penguins 32 points better in the
standings, the Oilers finished one goal better on the scoreboard
after center Ryan Nugent Hopkins scored his second goal of the game
61 seconds into overtime to complete the stunning upset.
The Penguins seemed to have it won, twice. They were up 2-0 after
two periods and lead 3-2 with less than two minutes left in the
third period. But the Oilers roared back both times.
"Run and gun is not exactly how we want to play every night because
you can get caught that way, but when we match skill against skill
we do pretty good," said Nugent-Hopkins, who finished the night with
two goals and an assist in almost 22 minutes of ice time.
"It's a big win against a really good team in the league. Just to
show that we can do this gives us some more confidence."
In a wild third period that few expected, the Oilers erased the 2-0
deficit on goals from Nugent-Hopkins and left winger Taylor Hall,
fell behind again when Penguins defenseman Kris Letang scored two
seconds into a power play, then tied it again when defenseman Anton
Belov scored with 1:59 left in regulation.
"It was good to see us come out in the third period and say we
weren't going to go away," said Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk. "OK
with being close is just not good enough for us in here. (Coach)
Dallas Eakins came in and addressed that, asked us which direction
we were going to take this thing."
The Penguins, still in a state of shock, admit they simply couldn't
match Edmonton's hunger on this night.
"We just didn't match their desperation," said captain Sidney
Crosby. "Being up by two goals, obviously we need to find a way to
close that game out. We knew they were going to come out hard for
the third and we still let them get even, then we took the lead and
lost it again. You don't deserve to win games when you do that."
Which is why they didn't win this one.
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"There is lots to learn from this game," said Penguins coach
Dan Bylsma. "It is a game that we let slip away, there is no
question. We let it slip away with the way we played and not
taking care of the game. We let a point go.
"We have seen the Oilers twice this year. Their skill and speed
and talent is evident and their desperation at the end was
greater than ours tonight."
After a scoreless first period, Pittsburgh pulled away in the
second thanks to a couple of costly mistakes from Edmonton's
defense. Defenseman Jeff Petry gave the puck away twice in 10
seconds to Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, who set up left winger
James Neal's goal at 2:09 of the first period. Then, an
ill-advised pinch by defenseman Andrew Ference led to a
two-on-one in which Penguins center Sidney Crosby's centering
pass banked in off Oilers center Sam Gagner and went past
goaltender Devan Dubnyk at 7:55.
Nugent-Hopkins scored 53 seconds into the third and Hall tied it
at 10:07, setting the stage for the final period dramatics.
"The biggest thing is that this wasn't a game where we got lucky
or the goaltender stood on his head," said Hall. "For the most
part we played pretty well."
NOTES: Despite getting C Evgeni Malkin, D Kris Letang, D Rob
Scuderi and D Brooks Orpik back from injury in recent games, the
Penguins still have eight players out of the lineup with
injuries. ... Penguins C Sidney Crosby has a seven-game point
scoring streak on the go. ... Penguins LW Chris Kunitz came into
the game with the best plus-minus in the NHL at plus-23 and
finshed even, while Edmonton's Nail Yakupov came in with the
league's worst minus-24 and finished -1. ... Former Oilers
captain Mark Messier confirmed that he has indeed accepted an
advisory role with Edmonton. ... Edmonton plays nine of its next
13 on the road before the Olympic break. ... The first-period
goal by Penguins LW James Neal gives him 16 in the last 19
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