Aston-Reese lifts Pens past Kings for 10th home win a row
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Penguins’ rookie forward Zach Aston-Reese didn’t know he scored the eventual game-winning goal until he was on the bench.
Aston-Reese broke a third-period tie with a power-play goal and the Penguins beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 on Thursday night for their 10th straight home victory.
Two nights after scoring his first two NHL goals, Aston-Reese gave the Penguins the lead at 5:24 of the period with his first power-play goal. Kris Letang’s point shot through traffic clipped Aston-Reese’s skate and went between goalie Jonathan Quick’s pads.
“I heard my name (announced) and I was surprised,” Aston-Reese said. “I didn’t even realize it had gone off my foot. My eyes widened and I just looked at (Letang) on the bench. I wasn’t really expecting that.”
The Penguins’ home streak is the longest since a franchise-record 13-game run during the 2013-14 season. The Penguins haven’t lost in Pittsburgh since Jan. 4, a 4-0 setback to Carolina. Pittsburgh has won eight of 10 overall and 13 of 17.
Ryan Reaves scored in the second period, and Evgeni Malkin added an empty-netter. Matt Murray, playing his 100th NHL game, stopped 34 shots. Murray is in sole possession of first place for the most wins in his first 100 games among goalies to debut since 2005-06. He is unbeaten in regulation in his last eight decisions and won his last six at home.
“I think Matt’s really been locked in the last half dozen games he’s been in the net,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “An indication that Matt’s on top of his game is he tends to make the difficult plays look easy. I can see it from the bench, the comfort level he has in there.”
Dion Phaneuf scored a power-play goal in his Kings debut. Phaneuf and forward Nate Thompson were traded from Ottawa to the Kings for Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore during the Senators’ 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
Immigration issues nearly kept Phaneuf from making his Kings’ debut. If his immigration paperwork didn’t go through in time, Phaneuf wouldn’t have been eligible to play. He skated on a fourth defense pair during the morning skate.
“The odds were that the immigration stuff wasn’t going to go through, was what I was told,” Phaneuf said. “I’m very fortunate that they were able to get the paperwork done and when I found out, I was pretty excited about the opportunity to play my first game for this organization.”
Quick made 36 saves for the Kings, who have lost three straight games.
Reaves opened the scoring at 6:06 of the second period with a blocker-side wrist shot from the top of the circle. Reaves said he was inspired by a meeting earlier in the day with Willie O’Ree, the first African-American player in the National Hockey League.
O’Ree was in attendance Thursday and visited the Penguins after the team’s morning skate where Reaves caught up with him.
“I can’t promise goals, but I (told O’Ree) I was going to have a good game for him, and hopefully get him one, and I did,” said Reaves, who is black. “With Willie O’Ree in the house, it was pretty special. He’s a pioneer for players like me and it was nice to get him one.”
NOTES: Sidney Crosby has a 10-game home point streak, while Malkin has points in six straight at home. ... Penguins F Patric Hornqvist, who missed his sixth game with a lower-body injury, was on the ice before Thursday’s morning skate. ... Thompson missed the previous four games with the Senators because of a lower-body injury. Pittsburgh scratched D Chad Ruhwedel, D Matt Hunwick and F Teddy Blueger. Los Angeles sat D Paul LaDue, D Kevin Gravel and F Michael Mersch.
Kings: At Buffalo on Saturday night.
Penguins: Host Toronto on Saturday night.