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Wednesday December 19 2018
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Pens pace Stars in 3-1 win

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Patric Hornqvist, Jamie Oleksiak and Evgeni Malkin all added goals, while Casey DeSmith stopped 17 shots in the Penguins' bounce back 3-1 win over Dallas Sunday at PPG Paints Arena Sunday night.

The last time the Pens and Stars met on the ice, it was a dizzying pace flurried with first period penalties, in a game that saw Dallas (38-25-6) take the two points in a shootout win.

Pittsburgh (40-26-4) all-but-assured avenging round two in the first 20 minutes, as a Hornqvist power play finish and a Phil Kessel-to-Oleksiak one-timer just inside the blue line with four seconds left in the first period, was enough to seal the deal and lift the Pens to their fourth win in the last five games.

The Penguins bounced back from a 5-2 loss in Toronto just a night before.

“We knew it was going to be a physical game; we knew they were going to use their aggression against us,” said Mike Sullivan.  “I was really pleased with the focus I thought our guys had, just as far as trying to get to our game and not playing somebody else’s game.”

Malkin talked about the importance of opening the game with immediate momentum.

“I think it’s huge that right away—first shift; second shift—we showed them we are ready to play,” said Malkin, who punched in his 39th goal of the season on an empty-netter with just under a minute remaining in the game.

“It was an unbelievable effort and a great game by us,” concluded the center, who has registered at least one point in 18 of the Pens’ last 20 games.

“This was one of our better games as a group for sure,” said Hornqvist, who scored his 20th goal, marking the eighth time in the forward’s career that he’s clipped that milestone.

Hornqvist and the Penguins thought they nipped another power play goal early in the second period but Dallas’s Ken Hitchcock’s challenge for offsides proved to be the correct call, as Malkin’s skate was still off the ice at the blue line before the puck was in the zone just seconds before the goal, which was ultimately disallowed.

“We thought that because they used their timeout that they lost the privilege, but that’s not the case,” Sullivan said of the confusion behind Dallas’s coaching challenge.  “They couldn’t challenge a goalie interreference because, if they already used their timeout, the punishment for being wrong is to lose your timeout.  It makes sense.  The penalty for being wrong on an offsides [call] is a minor penalty.  That was the explanation.”

 “You learn something new every day,” said Hornqvist of his ambivalence on the rule.  “What can you do about it?  It is what it is.  After that, I think we played really hard, and we played a really good period and we didn’t give [Dallas] much.”

The disallowed goal marked the second one in as many nights, as a questionable goalie interference call wiped away a Brian Dumoulin goal against Toronto.

Not letting the halt of offensive momentum lull them for a second straight game, the Penguins continued to smother Dallas defensively, allowing just 18 shots on goal.

After the Stars scored on an Alexander Radulov power play finish with 12:03 left in the second period, the team only managed to hang a total of seven shots on goal in the final 27:57 of play.

“This was one of the more complete efforts that we have had all year,” explained Sullivan.  “I thought on both sides of the puck, we had some pretty high-quality scoring chances, I thought every line contributed, I thought the power play was dynamic and our play away from the puck was pretty good.  That’s the formula for us moving forward, we can be as every bit as good defensively away from the puck as when we have the puck and it’s always predicated on using our foot speed and our skating.”

Oleksiak’s goal, his fifth of the season, marked the 12th time in the past 15 games that a Pens defenseman found the back of the net.

After the moneyline

The Pens came in as -145 favorites.  The total, which was set at six goals, went under for the first time in three games.  The over has hit in eight of Pittsburgh’s last 11 games.

Up next

The Penguins will start the first leg of a three-game road trip in New York on Wednesday, where they will face the Rangers.  Puck drops from Madison Square Garden at 8 PM.

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