Jake Guentzel scored a second-period hat trick and added an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the Canucks 4-1 in Vancouver on Saturday.
Two of the left-winger’s goals came on the power play after the Canucks saw three players sent to the penalty box in quick succession.
Sidney Crosby had a goal and a pair of assists and Kris Letang registered three helpers as the Pens improved to 11-8-5 on the season.
Rookie Vasily Podkolzin replied for the Canucks (8-15-2).
5th of the year for #92! pic.twitter.com/RPFLuUpKOW
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) December 5, 2021
Surrey native Tristan Jarry had 22 saves for Pittsburgh as he made his first-ever start in Vancouver. At the other end of the ice, Thatcher Demko stopped 40-of-44 shots.
It’s the second time in 11 days that the visitors beat the Canucks, coming after the Penguins took a 4-1 decision in Pittsburgh on Nov. 24.
The Canucks got a prime opportunity to cut into the deficit with less than three minutes left on the clock as John Marino was called for interference.
Vancouver pulled Demko in favour of an extra attacker, but the home side struggled to maintain possession, eliciting boos from the crowd.
Chants of “fire Benning!” also echoed through the stadium late in the game, referring to Canucks general manager Jim Benning. A blue Canucks jersey flew on to the ice during a stoppage in play with 1.6 seconds left on the game clock.
Crosby gave the Pens a three-goal lead 11:15 into the third, tapping in a long bomb from Letang.
It was the third goal of the season for the Pittsburgh captain, who missed 13 games with injury and illness.
After a scoreless first period, the Penguins’ offence erupted in the second. Pittsburgh outshot the Canucks 22-5 across the period, with Guentzel scoring three goals in the process.
Guentzel put the visitors on the board just 2:19 into the frame with a blast from inside the faceoff circle. Demko initially appeared to make the stop but the puck hit Oliver Ekman-Larsson in front of the net and bounced in past the goalie.
The goal extended Guentzel’s point streak to 12 games. He has 16 points (10 goals, six assists) across the stretch.
The Canucks replied at the 6:18 mark when Podkolzin, stationed in the middle of the slot, sent a deflection in off Jarry’s shoulder for his fifth goal of the year.
Trouble began brewing for Vancouver midway through the period when defenceman Tyler Myers was sent to the box for closing his hand on the puck.
Thirty seconds into the infraction, Tyler Motte was clocked for cross checking Kris Letang and joined Myers in the box. Defenceman Tucker Poolman made the duo a trio 20 seconds later when he sent the puck over the glass for the Canucks’ third straight penalty.
Guentzel was quick to capitalize on the open ice, blasting a shot over Demko’s shoulder 17:13 into the second period.
He added another tally — his 13th goal of the season — 70 seconds later with a shot from high in the slot that hit defenceman Luke Schenn’s back side and ricocheted in past Demko to give Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead.
It was the fourth regular-season hat trick of Guentzel’s career. He’s also scored two in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh was 2 for 6 with the man advantage Saturday, while Vancouver went scoreless on three power plays.
The Canucks will continue a six-game homestand on Monday when they host the L.A. Kings. The Penguins will face the Kraken in Seattle the same night.
NOTES: The Canucks came into the game with the worst penalty kill in the league (64.5 per cent). … Guentzel has scored in each of Pittsburgh’s 13 road games. … Vancouver is 3-7-1 at home this season.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press