DeSmith blanks Canucks; Penguins finish perfect Canada trip
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Casey DeSmith wanted another crack at the Vancouver Canucks, and he didn’t waste it.
The backup goalie stopped 29 shots for his second career shutout, and the Pittsburgh Penguins got two goals apiece from Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in beating the Canucks 5-0 on Saturday night.
DeSmith lost the previous matchup between the teams Oct. 16 when Brock Boeser scored 34 seconds into overtime.
“I don’t like losing and the way we lost, I felt the overtime goal I could have had, so that has kind of been on my mind since the last time and that was actually the last game I played,” DeSmith said. “It just so happened my next game was against these guys and that worked out well.”
He got the nod over Matt Murray in the final game of Pittsburgh’s four-game trip to Canada and helped his team complete a sweep. The Penguins also won at Toronto, Edmonton and Calgary.
DeSmith’s previous shutout came on April 26 against Ottawa.
Phil Kessel also scored for Pittsburgh, which has just one loss in regulation this season.
“They’ve got some world-class players that can score if you give them the chance,” Canucks coach Travis Green said.
Jacob Markstrom stopped 30 shots for Vancouver. He kept the Canucks in the game with several clutch saves, including in the first period when he sprawled to turn away a rocket from Malkin with his left skate.
Still, the goaltender wasn’t happy with his performance.
“No, 5-0 on the board, you can’t be happy,” Markstrom said. “It’s a 60-minute game. You’ve got to play good all 60.”
Pittsburgh opened the scoring midway through the second period, following a patient move by Olli Maatta. The defenseman had been waiting for a chance at the point and fired a shot that bounced off Markstrom’s pads. Kessel sneaked around the back of the net and found the rebound, banging it in for his seventh goal of the season, which leads the Penguins.
Kessel played in his 255th consecutive game for Pittsburgh, surpassing Malkin for the franchise record.
Crosby scored later in the period, collecting the puck in front and sending a backhand past Markstrom.
Malkin’s goals came 59 seconds apart in the third. The Russian center also assisted on Kessel’s goal, and said the two have good chemistry.
“When Phil plays good, I am playing good. When he is feeling it, I feel it, too. When he is lazy I am like, I can’t do it myself,” Malkin said.
Malkin’s first goal came off a saucer pass from Daniel Sprong that he quickly buried in the side of the net. Less than a minute later, Malkin again found the puck in front and sliced it in past Markstrom. He has four goals and 11 assists in his last seven games.
Crosby capped the scoring with just more than two minutes left, firing in a shot from the side of the net. The Penguins’ captain has five goals and three assists during a four-game scoring streak.
NOTES: Boeser and 19-year-old rookie center Elias Pettersson returned from injuries for Vancouver. Boeser had missed two games with a groin injury, while Pettersson had been sidelined with a concussion since Oct. 13. Boeser has six points in 10 games, and Pettersson registered five goals and three assists in his first five NHL outings. Green had the pair skating together on a line with Nikolay Goldobin for much of the game. The trio combined for six shots. “I thought we came out fast and spent a lot of time in their zone,” Green said. “But at the end of the day, you’ve got to find a way to put a puck in the back of the net.”
Penguins: Host the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
Canucks: Continue their four-game homestand Monday against Minnesota.