PITTSBURGH (AP)From the day he took over nearly seven years ago, Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan has preached to his gifted offensive players to stop messing around and just shoot the puck.
It appears Sullivan may finally have a group he doesn’t have to tell twice.
Jeff Petry and Jan Rutta scored their first goals of the season on blasts from the point that made their way around well-placed screens, Jake Guentzel and Rickard Rakell scored from in close and Pittsburgh raced by the Los Angeles Kings 6-1 on Tuesday night.
Jeff Carter beat former teammate Jonathan Quick for his second goal of the season and Ryan Poehling added the first of his career late as the Penguins improved to 3-0-1.
”Certainly our guys are finishing, they’re creating opportunities,” said Sullivan after becoming the first coach in franchise history to reach 300 career victories with the club.
The Penguins have outscored opponents 18-5 through three games at PPG Paints Arena. Though what turned into a blowout didn’t start that way. Tristan Jarry made 17 of his 39 saves in the first period, where the only place Pittsburgh happened to dominate was the scoreboard.
Rutta gave the Penguins the lead 4:04 into the first with an innocent flip from the point that made its way through traffic before slipping by Petersen. The goal was just the 13th of Rutta’s 242-game career.
Jarry withstood a flurry from the Kings, and Guentzel picked up his third goal of the season at the end of a sequence in which Petersen chased Penguins defenseman Kris Letang behind the net. Letang flicked the puck to the mouth of the goal and Guentzel jammed it in while standing in the blue paint.
Rakell’s followed a little less than four minutes later by skating behind Petersen through the paint to backhand home a rebound off a Petry shot from the point.
”Goalies are fighting to see the puck and then obviously rebounds are laying there, so those guys getting rewarded around the blue paint is a good sign,” Petry said.
Cal Petersen stopped just six of the nine shots he faced in the first period before being pulled at the start of the second. Jonathan Quick made 22 saves over the final 40 minutes but Los Angeles saw its three-game winning streak snapped.
Carl Grundstrom’s power-play goal with 2:12 remaining spoiled Jarry’s bid for his 12th career shutout.
”The only thing is the (first) period is as bad as the score is, I didn’t think our play was that bad,” Kings center Anze Kopitar said. ”Just a couple (of) tough breaks. We’re down 3-0 and then you’re obviously playing catch up. You’re trying to make something happen. It didn’t happen tonight.”
Petry struggled in an overtime loss to Montreal on Tuesday, getting called for three penalties and being booed relentlessly in a building where he played for eight years before being traded to Pittsburgh over the summer. The 34-year-old defenseman responded by drilling home a slap shot from the point 4:13 into the second and chipping in two assists as the Penguins pulled away as they have so many times during Sullivan’s long tenure.
The franchise’s all-time winningest coach and two-time Stanley Cup winner passed along the credit to the players who have made his 300 victories happen.
”They’re the guys that go out there and earn the wins for us,” Sullivan said. ”These guys I’ve been coaching in my time here work so hard to bring us the success we have on the ice.”
Kings: Finish up an early season five-game East Coast swing on Saturday in Washington.
Penguins: Play 13 of their next 17 on the road starting on Saturday in Columbus.
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