Guentzel, Aston-Reese lead Penguins past Senators
PITTSBURGH (AP) — It was a big night for two of the youngest Pittsburgh Penguins.
The same can be said for a longtime NHL veteran, now formerly with the Ottawa Senators.
Jake Guentzel scored twice, Zach Aston-Reese scored his first two NHL goals and the Penguins picked up a 6-3 victory over the Senators, who also traded veteran defenseman Dion Phaneuf to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.
Phaneuf, 32, was pulled from Ottawa’s bench during the game and the trade was finalized afterward. The Kings visit the Penguins on Thursday, so he doesn’t even have to leave Pittsburgh to meet up with his new team.
“I’m excited to be going to the Los Angeles Kings,” Phaneuf said. “It’s going to be a real good experience for me to be able to join that team. I’m excited about the team that they have, where they’re at in the standings and I’m going to go there and do my best to do whatever I can to help their team.”
Evgeni Malkin scored his 31st and Kris Letang tallied his fourth for the Penguins, who have won seven of nine and 12 of their last 16. Sidney Crosby, who scored his 400th career goal on Sunday, finished with three assists.
Pittsburgh is riding a nine-game home winning streak, the longest since a franchise-record 13-game run during the 2013-14 season. The Penguins haven’t lost in Pittsburgh since a 4-0 defeat by Carolina on Jan. 4.
Matt Murray stopped 30 shots for Pittsburgh.
Derick Brassard, Colin White and Mike Hoffman all scored for the Senators, who lost for the third time in five games. The Senators dropped to 7-16-4 on the road. They were 22-17-2 away from home last season.
Phaneuf has 16 points in 52 games this season and 478 in 954 games during his 13-year NHL career with the Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs and Senators. He was traded again almost exactly two years after the Senators got him from the Maple Leafs.
“The business is the business,” Phaneuf said. “For me, it’s a business decision that the Ottawa Senators wanted to move me, and I respect that.”
Guentzel scored his 17th on the power play and his 18th in the second period. Aston-Reese scored the first of his career in the second period and added an empty-net goal with 1:05 to play.
Mike Condon made five saves on nine shots before he was pulled after Aston-Reese’s goal. Craig Anderson stopped 17 of 18 shots.
Guentzel, who set a Penguins rookie record with 13 goals in the playoffs, scored 12 goals in his first 27 games this season, but he had just four in his previous 30.
“I’ve kind of been in a drought,” Guentzel said. “Whenever you can score a couple, you get a little confidence.”
Aston-Reese, a finalist for the 2017 Hobey Baker Award, played in his first NHL game Feb. 3 at New Jersey and recorded his first point at Dallas six days later.
The Penguins opened the scoring with their first power-play goal in five games. Guentzel tipped a Justin Schultz point shot behind Condon for the early lead.
Brassard evened the score at 4:18 of the second period with a blocker-side slap shot from the left faceoff dot.
The Penguins reclaimed the lead for good 52 seconds later with Guentzel’s second goal, a rebound from the top of the crease.
Murray made a sliding stop on Cody Ceci off the rush shortly after Guentzel’s goal, allowing Malkin and Aston-Reese to break it open.
Carl Hagelin pulled Condon out of position when he circled the net. An unsuspecting Condon thought Hagelin still had the puck, but he blindly dished it to Malkin, who dumped a spinning bad-angle backhander into a partially open net.
Aston-Reese made it a 4-1 game 1:20 later. He took a pass from Crosby off the rush and flicked a wrist shot that hit Condon’s glove and went across the line.
“It was pretty special,” Aston-Reese said. “It was almost like a release. I was just trying to back off the defense and give Sid some room, but he just dished it into an area, found my stick and I threw it on net.”
NOTES: Crosby and Phil Kessel both have nine-game home point streaks. Kessel’s matches his longest with the team. Malkin has points in five straight home games. ... This was Ottawa’s first visit to Pittsburgh since the Penguins’ double-overtime victory in Game 7 of last season’s Eastern Conference Finals. ... Senators F Nate Thompson missed his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Pittsburgh scratched D Chad Ruhwedel, D Matt Hunwick and F Teddy Blueger. F Alexandre Burrows and D Fredrik Claesson sat for Ottawa.
Senators: Play two games at home starting Thursday against Buffalo.
Penguins: Continue a three-game homestand Thursday against Los Angeles.
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