Kris Letang stuffed a wraparound by Carter Hart 1:57 into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat Philadelphia 3-2 on Thursday night.
Playing in his first game since Oct. 19 following a bout with COVID-19, Letang’s first goal of the season helped the Penguins end a three-game losing streak on a night they played without star center Sidney Crosby and head coach Mike Sullivan. Crosby tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and Sullivan joined him just hours before the opening faceoff. Assistant coach Todd Reirden will fill in during Sullivan’s absence.
Tristan Jarry stopped 36 shots for Pittsburgh, weathering a heavy barrage early and making a couple of quality stops in the extra period to buy time for Letang to eventually win it.
Brock McGinn scored 16 seconds into the game for the Penguins and Jake Guentzel collected his second of the season for Pittsburgh.
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Travis Konecny collected his fourth goal of the season for Philadelphia and Scott Laughton’s goal with 2:52 left in regulation forced overtime, but Jarry’s stellar play helped the Penguins win the first of their four regular-season meetings with their cross-state rivals. Hart made 33 stops for the Flyers, but couldn’t quite smother Letang’s wraparound. The referees initially ruled no goal, but it was overturned when reviews showed the puck trickled across the goal line.
The win came at the end a four-day break that featured a trickling of positive COVID-19 tests. Eight Penguins have entered the protocol since training camp opened in September, including four since Monday in Crosby and defensemen Brian Dumoulin, Marcus Pettersson and Chad Ruhwedel.
The Flyers did their best to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s patched-together blue line early, throwing 17 shots at Jarry in the first period alone. None of them made it through as Jarry’s strong start continued following a forgettable flameout in the first round of the playoffs last April.
The Penguins needed just one shot to get to Hart. Mike Matheson’s threw a shot in from the point shortly after the Penguins won the opening faceoff and McGinn skated alone in front to redirect by Hart for his third goal of the season.
The Flyers finally broke through on Konecny’s power-play goal 7:37 into the second period, when he took a pass from Claude Giroux at the left post, spun around and roofed it over Jarry’s right shoulder.
The momentum didn’t last. Penguins went back in front just over four minutes later when Guentzel initially fanned on a shot from the left circle then quickly regrouped to whistle one by Hart’s extended left pad for his first goal in three weeks.
Pittsburgh nearly made it hold up before a loose puck found its way from behind the Penguins’ net to Laughton’s stick. Jarry had no chance on the one-timer as Philadelphia forced the extra period.
NOTES: Penguins center Jeff Carter became the 14th active player to appear in 1,100 games, the first 461 of which came while playing for Philadelphia, which took him with the 11th overall pick in the 2003 draft. … Konecny’s power-play goal was just the second for the Flyers in their last five games.
Flyers: Travel to Washington to take on the Capitals on Saturday night.
Penguins: Finish up a season-long eight-game homestand on Saturday when Minnesota visits.