DALLAS (AP) — Jake Oettinger allowed Sidney Crosby’s first career goal in Dallas. The Stars goaltender also made plenty of big saves, including a few on Pittsburgh’s high-scoring star.
Joe Pavelski scored the tiebreaking goal on a third-period power play, and the Stars overcame Crosby’s first tally in Texas in a 3-2 victory over the Penguins on Thursday night.
Oettinger made 40 saves, five of them coming in the final 68 seconds when the Penguins had a 6-on-4 advantage with the goalie pulled after Jani Hakanpaa was called for slashing.
The 24-year-old Oettinger, who had a breakout performance in a first-round playoff loss last spring, was coming off three consecutive sub-.900 save percentages, and wasn’t very happy with himself.
He was a little more pleased after helping the Stars slip a point ahead of Minnesota atop the Central Division with the Wild’s 5-4 shootout loss in Philadelphia. Dallas has 10 games remaining.
“I feel like I’m one of the best goalies in the world, and I haven’t shown that,” said Oettinger, who has played more than usual with primary backup Scott Wedgewood injured.
“A lot of people have been saying they think I’m exhausted,” he said. “No one knows how I feel except for me. I feel great. No one can say that about tonight.”
Roope Hintz and Jamie Benn also scored for Dallas, and leading goal-scorer Jason Robertson had a pair of assists.
Crosby’s 548th career goal was the 35-year-old’s first in 10 games at the home of the Stars and gave him at least one in each of the other 31 NHL arenas.
Despite the loss, the Penguins held on to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference because of Florida’s 6-2 loss to Toronto.
“I think the group feels good about our game,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “I thought we played well enough to win. There was a lot to like about our overall game.”
Pavelski tipped a pass from Miro Heiskanen past Casey DeSmith midway through the third period after Chad Ruhwedel had been called for high-sticking.
The assist gave the 23-year-old Heiskanen a 12-game point streak, a franchise record for a Stars defenseman. Craig Hartsburg set the previous mark in 1986, when the team was in Minnesota.
Pierre-Olivier Joseph pulled the Penguins within 3-2 with six minutes to go, but Oettinger and the Stars held on.
With the game tied 1-1 early in the third, Oettinger made a sprawling pad save on Bryan Rust on a chance set up by Crosby’s pass, then made another pad save against Crosby on the rebound.
In the frantic final seconds, Oettinger, who earned his 31st win, made a nifty glove grab when Crosby sent an elevated puck toward the net.
“We’ve talked all year, it’s about your response,” Dallas coach Pete DeBoer said. “His response tonight tells you what he’s about. We weren’t going to lose that game, and he made sure of it. He was our best player by far.”
DeSmith, who had a 1.00 goals-against average in two games against Dallas coming in, stopped 30 shots.
After Hintz put Dallas in front with his 33rd goal in the first period, Crosby pulled Pittsburgh even with his 31st in the second a night after scoring in Colorado to tie Mario Lemieux for the most 30-goal seasons in franchise history with 11.
Stars F Tyler Seguin returned from a six-game absence after getting cut on his left leg March 9 against Buffalo. He had three shots and a team-high three giveaways in 14 minutes.
“Everything’s just kind of where is your brain, just being around players again,” Seguin said. “Those quick decisions, a couple of them you’d like back. But great win.”
Joseph’s goal was his fifth and gave him 20 points this season. Dallas’ Nils Lundkvist (six goals) is the only rookie defenseman with more goals. Joseph is the 11th Pittsburgh rookie blueliner to record 20 points.
Robertson is up to 50 assists on the season, second on the club to Heiskanen’s 51, and finished his 200th career game with 216 points (99 goals, 117 assists).
Stars F Radek Faksa was a late scratch with an illness.
Penguins: Washington at home Saturday.
Stars: A three-game homestand ends Saturday against Vancouver.