Pascal Dupuis, Brad Stuart

Penguins squander four-goal lead, manage to beat Red Wings in shootout

In the last two days, the Pittsburgh Penguins have allowed third periods to get away from them. On Sunday, Matt Cooke’s much-reviled hit (in conjunction with Matt Niskanen’s high-stick double-minor) gave the New York Rangers enough power-play opportunities to ultimately take a game Pittsburgh arguably deserved to win.

A lack of discipline and closing ability nearly doomed the Penguins against the Detroit Red Wings tonight, but James Neal earned the shootout win to help his team save face (and two points).

Pittsburgh 5, Detroit 4 (SO)

Pascal Dupuis (two goals and one assist overall) and Chris Kunitz (one goal, one assist) made it 2-0 in the first period, while Dupuis and Tyler Kennedy increased Pittsburgh’s lead to 4-0 midway through the second. Yet it seemed like Henrik Zetterberg’s late second period gave the Red Wings some momentum, as they took control of the third.

Valtteri Filppula scored about two minutes into the final frame and then Detroit’s power play took over, with Danny Cleary and Mike Modano finding the twine on the man advantage.

It was a rough outing for Jimmy Howard, as the Red Wings’ workhorse was pulled after allowing four goals on 15 shots. Joey MacDonald was a stabilizing force in relief, stopping all 10 shots during the remainder of the game and only yielding Neal’s shootout goal. Brent Johnson absorbed all four Detroit goals but deservedly earned his 11th win of the season by making 37 saves. Pittsburgh is Marc-Andre Fleury’s team, but Johnson provides the team with a useful backup.

What this outcome means for the Penguins and Red Wings:

While the Penguins must be a little concerned about giving up third period leads, they still managed to beat the West’s second best team on the tail end of back-to-back games. Considering all their injuries, they can pat themselves on the back a bit (at least now that they won). With two less games remaining and four less points than the Philadelphia Flyers, the Atlantic Division title is almost certainly out of reach for Pittsburgh. They did, however, strengthen their hold on the fourth spot; the Penguins have three more points than the fifth-place Tampa Bay Lightning (although the Bolts hold an extra game in hand).

The Red Wings should be fairly happy with the fact that they stole a point from this game. They hold a three-point lead over the San Jose Sharks for the West’s No. 2 seed, which might become an important factor if the two teams meet in a second round series for the second year in a row.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.