PITTSBURGH – It looked like it was going to be an easy night for the Pittsburgh Penguins after they built a five-goal lead at home against a road-weary Edmonton Oilers team that looked as if it couldn’t wait to get off the ice.
During a frantic final 11 minutes in which they barely preserved a one-goal advantage, easy was the last word that was on the Penguins’ minds.
Miroslav Satan and Petr Sykora each scored twice and NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin set up three goals in the second period as the Penguins opened a five-goal lead, then held on for 5-4 victory over Edmonton on Thursday night.
“Halfway through the game, we were playing great,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “We lost our momentum. We lost our focus. If we lose our focus, good things aren’t going to happen to us.”
The Oilers, playing their fifth consecutive road game and their 10th in 12 games, couldn’t score despite getting the game’s first four power-play opportunities and appeared tired while falling behind 5-0 late in the second period.
But a night after they couldn’t hold a 4-2 lead in Columbus during a 5-4 loss, the Oilers got goals from Fernando Pisani, Tom Gilbert and Ales Hemsky – his fourth in three games – in less than five minutes to get back into a game that looked to be long since lost.
“We got caught overconfident, really, and not playing the right way,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “We started to cheat a bit, we got a couple of bad bounces and then they’re right back in it.”
The Oilers lost some momentum during an extended Penguins two-man advantage, but Kyle Brodziak alertly saw Sheldon Souray coming out of the penalty box and put a perfectly placed pass on his stick for a backhander that fooled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and made it 5-4. The short-handed goal at 8:59 of the third was Edmonton’s second in as many nights.
“With the way it is now, you can just never quit on the game,” Souray said. “We were positive and we had a feeling we could come back. It’s always easier to say than do, but we had some good efforts in the third. Just a little too little, too late.”
The Penguins, coming off a four-day break, and Fleury tightened up after that to preserve their second successive victory. They have 11 goals in two games after being held to 25 in their first 11 games.
Before the comeback, Pittsburgh scored three times in less than six minutes in the second as Malkin assisted on Sykora’s two goals and Satan’s second of the game and eighth this season – half as many as the 16 he scored with the Islanders last season. Malkin has a league-high 21 points on four goals and 17 assists.
Sykora’s two-goal game against his former club was his 37th, the most of any player who has never had a three-goal game. Satan, also a former Oilers player, has seven goals in nine games.
“You have to be happy with two points, but not with the way we played,” Sykora said. “We have to sit down and talk about the way we played because that’s not going to work for us.”
All of Pittsburgh’s goals came against Mathieu Garon, who allowed five goals in 20 shots during his first start in four games. Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, Edmonton’s No. 3 goalie, came on after Sykora’s second goal to stop all 14 shots he faced.
“It’s tough losing two games in a row by a goal. You look back at plays that could have made a difference,” Gilbert said.
Satan and Maxime Talbot scored in the first for Pittsburgh, with Talbot getting a short-handed goal after Sidney Crosby skated down the right-wing boards and put a hard wrist shot on net.
Sykora scored his two goals in less than two minutes, the first on a set play off Malkin’s faceoff win and the second on a power play while following up Malkin’s one-timer. All five Pittsburgh goals came around the net.
“Fortunately we got the two points, but we have to make sure we learn our lesson,” the Penguins’ Matt Cooke said. “Down the road, we might not be as lucky.”
Notes: Oilers D Ladislav Smid sat out with a concussion that occurred Wednesday night. … The Oilers have already played nearly one-quarter of their road schedule. They are 2-3 during a seven-game road trip and are 4-6 overall on the road. … Edmonton has scored 16 goals in four games. … Pittsburgh is 7-1 with two ties in its last 10 home games against Western Conference teams.