Third and no goal

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

With the Edmonton Oilers up by a pair of goals heading into the third period, all eyes were on Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

The way the Oilers have been blowing leads this year, and the two stars' tendency to take over games, a 2-0 third-period advantage hardly seemed secure.

It wasn't.

Yet while Crosby and Malkin were kept off the scoreboard, it was Jordan Staal who spearheaded the comeback.

"That is where their strength is, down the middle," said Oilers head coach Pat Quinn. "If you have that strength there, you have a chance to win every night."

THREE ASSISTS

Staal picked up three third-period assists as the Penguins erased the two-goal deficit and went on to win 3-2.

The Penguin's third-line centre collected a helper on Tyler Kennedy's goal, took the initial shot on Matt Cooke's tying goal, and bounced the puck in off Pascal Dupuis for the winner.

"Yeah, they have pretty good depth over there and they're obviously Stanley Cup champions for a reason," said Oilers centre Ryan Potulny.

"We battled hard, we just didn't get the result we wanted."

On any other team in the league, Staal, 21, would probably be a first- or second-line centre.

However, playing behind Crosby and Malkin, the second overall pick in the 2006 NHL entry draft is down in the Penguin's depth chart.

His three-point effort last night gave him 33 points on the season, tying him for third in team scoring.

"The first two periods, we obviously didn't come out with our best effort," Staal said. "We shook it off and said we have to change it in the third and we did. It's not a good thing to have to come back like that.

"We have to work on being a team that comes out strong every time and we haven't been doing that of late, it's been catching up to us.

"We can't do this every night."

Having played the night before in Calgary, the Penguins looked as they were skating through sand in the first two periods.

Crosby was virtually invisible, although he did register three shots on net.

Malkin was all over the ice. But for all his efforts, the Russian star could not get on the scoreboard.

"When you have a two-goal lead, it doesn't matter what team you're playing against, you have to find a way to keep that," said Oilers winger Patrick O'Sullivan.

BIG LETDOWN

"It's really disappointing and frustrating, we played such a good game, probably the best game we've played in a couple of weeks.

"But they have by far the best third line in the league and they stepped up in the third period for them. Sid or Malkin didn't do a whole lot in the game, but that's their depth and that's why they're good."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos