PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins have struggled to consistently put together 60-minute efforts throughout the season. Thursday was no different, but ended with a Penguins win.
Pittsburgh survived after surrendering a four-goal lead to defeat the Edmonton Oilers 6-4 at Consol Energy Center.
After seeing its 4-0 lead vanish, the Penguins restored a one-goal lead when Steve Downie pounced on a rebound off of a wrist shot from Maxim Lapierre. Downie wrapped a shot around goalie Richard Bachman for his 12th goal with 5:22 remaining in the third period.
"We’re going to take this as a lesson learned and move on," Downie said. "We can’t have setbacks like that, but it’s a part of the game and we’ll move on. I think we just stopped moving our feet. We got a little comfortable out there and we stopped skating, we stopped making plays."
Patric Hornqvist added an insurance goal with 4:16 remaining. Despite the win, Penguins coach Mike Johnston said Pittsburgh was less satisfied with its performance than if it had lost with a better effort.
"As a team, you hope the staples of your game are better than that," Johnston said. "I was concerned about the start, so I give our guys credit. They were prepared for the game. They came out. They had a good start. And then, maybe it’s a natural thing that sometimes you let your foot off the gas and get casual, but once we saw Edmonton pick up the pace, that was the time, seven or eight minutes into the second period, to clamp it down and say 'Ok, that’s enough.'
"We didn’t make them earn enough tonight. I think we gave them way too much."
Down 4-2, Benoit Pouliot scored the Oilers’ second power-play goal of the game, on a snap shot off of a cross-ice pass from Derek Roy, 4:51 into the third period.
Derek Roy scored the tying goal for Edmonton with 9:56 remaining. After Roy tipped the puck away from Derrick Pouliot in front of the Pittsburgh net, Nail Yakupov sent a wrist shot on goal and Roy crashed the net, driving the puck past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
"I thought we played a really good second a really good third period," Roy said. "I think the lesson here is to come out with energy and come out and play the right way against a really good offensive team … I thought we fought right until the end."
The Penguins (39-18-10) pulled to within three points of the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Rangers, and two points of the second-place New York Islanders.
The Oilers (18-39-11) are 0-5-1 since they last won, 2-1 against the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 24.
With Penguins forward Nick Spaling in the penalty box for interference in the first period, Sutter scored his fourth shorthanded goal of the season, a career-high. When the puck came to Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz at the point, Sutter tipped it past the blue line and sent himself on a breakaway.
Sutter showed his forehand, causing goalie Ben Scrivens to commit to the fake, then went backhand past Scrivens’ blocker for a 1-0 lead, 4:16 into the first.
Following a few minutes of action in the Oilers’ end, Sutter scored again when he beat defenseman Mark Fayne to a rebound off of a wrist shot from Downie, 9:37 into the first. Sutter collided his stick with Fayne’s, but was able to sneak a wrist shot past Scrivens for his first multi-goal game since scoring twice in Pittsburgh’s 3-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche on April 6, 2014.
In Pittsburgh’s first home game since March 1, the Penguins experienced one of their more impressive starts of the season, capped by David Perron’s goal with 6:24 remaining in the first.
Sidney Crosby raced behind the Edmonton net to retrieve the puck before sending it out front, where Perron and Hornqvist waited. Perron was the recipient and sent a wrist shot through three Oilers and past Scrivens.
Crosby scored the Penguins’ fourth goal, 1:01 into the second period. Defenseman Kris Letang fed Crosby at the top of the right circle for a one-time slap shot he sent through a screen by Hornqvist into the right side of the Oilers net for a power-play goal. Bachman replaced Scrivens, who allowed four goals on 13 shots, following the goal.
"We had a great first and got too casual," Crosby said. "They’re a good team and we just let our foot off the gas and especially against those guys, they’re a skilled group … Just too nonchalant there."
Edmonton scored a pair of goals to cut its deficit in half by the end of the second. Anton Lander scored with Ben Lovejoy in the penalty box for high-sticking when he whacked at a rebound off of a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins shot before getting it past Fleury with 7:53 remaining in the second.
Jordan Eberle scored 3:04 later to bring the Oilers to within two goals. After Fayne’s shot was blocked and deflected into the air in front of Fleury, Nugent-Hopkins batted at the airborne puck, sending it to Eberle, who backhanded a shot past a sprawling Fleury with 4:49 left in the period.
"I thought our team as a whole was sloppy at the start," Oilers coach Todd Nelson said. "Our execution was off. We had some opportunities to get some decent shots, but we missed the net. We just weren’t sharp. After the first period, I thought we got a lot better. We got better as the game went on.
"We battled back and never quit. Against a team like that, we can take something away from this game."