PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang scored twice, including the go-ahead goal in the third period, and the undermanned Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to win their fifth straight, 4-2 over the Dallas Stars on Friday night.
Letang dangled his way past a sliding Tyler Seguin to skate in and beat Anton Khudobin from in close 6:34 into the third, giving Pittsburgh its first lead. Patric Hornqvist doubled the advantage with 9:40 to go when he stood in the slot and deflected a point shot by Dominik Simon for his third goal of the season.
Jared McCann also picked up his third goal for the Penguins, who have won five straight despite playing without a handful of forwards, including star centre Evgeni Malkin. Letang added an empty-netter in the final seconds to give him four goals this month. The veteran defenceman scored just 16 times last season. Matt Murray finished with 22 saves for Pittsburgh.
Roope Hintz scored his fifth goal for Dallas and John Klingberg’s first of the season — a shot through a screen — beat Murray with 7:59 remaining to get Dallas within one, but the Stars dropped to 1-7-1, with six of the losses coming by two goals or less. Khudobin stopped 29 shots but was once again undone by a lack of support.
Decimated by injuries up front — Malkin, Alex Galchenyuk, Bryan Rust and Nick Bjugstad are all on injured reserve — and relying heavily on depth brought up from the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Penguins have found ways to win anyway. Pittsburgh’s five-game run has been built on the kind of grit that can sometimes be difficult to manufacture in the early weeks of the six-month slog that is the regular season.
The Stars’ issues have been easier to pin down. It’s not that they’re playing poorly. Outside of Hintz, they’re just not scoring. Dallas began the night 25th in the league in goals (15), with only one of them coming on the power play.
Hintz gave the Stars the lead 5:10 into the second period when he took a feed from Jamie Benn at centre ice, streaked past Pittsburgh’s Brandon Tanev and Jack Johnson and beat Murray between the legs. The goal provided Dallas with a needed jolt but Murray responded to a sustained push to keep the Penguins in the game, including a pair of point-blank stops on Tyler Seguin.
Pittsburgh, in the midst of a 12-day span in which it plays seven times, found its footing late in the period and McCann — who had left earlier in the second after getting drilled in the upper body by a puck — redirected Pettersson’s point shot to pull the Penguins even.
The Penguins scratched defensemen Chad Ruhwedel, Erik Gudbranson and Jusso Riikola. … Dallas went 0 for 1 on the power play and is 1 for 25 with the man advantage this season. … Pittsburgh improved to 5-1 against the Western Conference. … The teams face off in Dallas on Oct. 26.
Stars: Wrap up a four-game trip on Saturday in Philadelphia. The teams split their two meetings last year, each winning on home ice.
Penguins: Host former teammate Marc-Andre Fleury and the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday. Fleury is 2-1 with a 3.02 goals-against average versus the team he helped win Stanley Cups in 2009, 2016 and 2017.
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Will Graves, The Associated Press