Penguins coach Dan Bylsma picked up his 100th NHL win Thursday night, but he easily could have gotten confused and thought he was back in the American Hockey League.
With a lineup studded with call--ups from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL, the Penguins halted a two-game losing streak with a 2-1 overtime win against Los Angeles at Consol Energy Center.
Center Jordan Staal, who had repeated looks at the net late in regulation and in overtime, buried one past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick with 18.4 seconds left in overtime, but the Penguins would have had a tough time winning without several new players.
Among the four players who arrived from the AHL the night before, Brett Sterling scored the game's first goal, Nick Johnson helped set up that goal, Ryan Craig gave the Penguins a spark with a spirited fight, and Joe Vitale laid out four hits in his NHL debut.
Game: Penguins vs. New York Islanders, 7:08 p.m. today, Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y..
TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9), penguins.nhl.com.
Probable goaltenders: Brent Johnson for Penguins. Mikko Koskinen for Islanders.
Penguins: Are 8-5-2 within Atlantic Division. ... Are 7-1-2 in second of back-to-back games. ... Have killed 28 of 29 opponent power plays over past 7 road games.
Islanders: Are 4-9-1 within Atlantic Division. ... Are 3-7-2 in second half of back-to-back games. ... Led NHL with 8 goals during 4-on-4 play before Thursday.
Of note: Five goaltenders have started for the Islanders, matching a franchise season record.
"The guys who have been playing from Wilkes-Barre for us are doing a great job," Staal said.
A slightly less recent call-up, and, more important, a center, was lost in the second period.
Dustin Jeffrey was driving the net, got upended and flew over Quick and into the net.
He was slow getting up, skated off on his own and did not return because of what is possibly a hip or upper leg injury.
Bylsma said Jeffrey will skip the trip to Long Island, where the Penguins play the New York Islanders tonight, and will be evaluated today.
The Penguins already were playing without injured centers Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Mark Letestu, who were among seven forwards missing because of injury or suspension.
Jeffrey was playing in his ninth game after his most recent promotion, a lifetime compared with the newbies.
They had been enjoying a day off Wednesday when they got the call that they were being summoned.
They were scattered -- Vitale, for instance was with his pregnant wife at a doctor's visit, and Craig was hanging out with his children.
Usually, players making the trip from Wilkes-Barre are supplied with a car service. This trip took a shuttle bus.
"It was a pretty cool opportunity for four of us to come up at one time and get a chance to play. I don't think I've ever seen that," Sterling said.
"Four guys and all their equipment, you need a pretty big van to get us here."
These guys brought their game.
Sterling got the first goal at 6:53 of the first period, a shot from the slot that he placed over Quick's glove to finish off a play in which his linemates, Johnson and Craig, played a big part.
Johnson had drawn two defensemen on the forecheck, and Jeffrey, from the right corner, fed Sterling.
"A play like that, it doesn't matter if you're in Wilkes-Barre or Pittsburgh," Sterling said.
"All of us know where each other are going to be.
"I came off the bench late on the change and I was just sneaking down the slot.
"Dustin made a great pass under a guy's stick, and. when you have that much time in the slot, I'm hoping I'm burying that.
"I saw [Quick] ducked down a little bit, and I was able to get it over his glove.
"That's a great way to start the game. It really relaxes you a little bit more than normal."
Bylsma said that line of prospects "in the first period was our best. They come out, get us the goal to start with."
The goal came just after Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek stepped in to make a save in the crease when a shot by Los Angeles' Justin Williams got behind goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury -- one of two such plays Michalek made in the game.
"He saved my butt once or twice pretty good. I owe him," said Fleury, who overall was stellar with 32 saves.
"Well, he saves my butt every single night -- not just once, but many times," Michalek said.
"Any time I can help him out and help out the team, I'm happy to do that."
Later in the first period, Michalek could not get a handle on a loose puck in his end, and Jarret Stoll converted that into a close-range scoring shot to tie the score, 1-1, at 17:17.
That's how it stood until Staal got the winner from the right circle after several earlier attempts, including a wraparound shot in the closing seconds of regulation that was blocked by former Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi.
"It's always nice to stuff a friend when he's trying to score a goal on you," Scuderi said, but he wasn't on the ice for Staal's winner.
"If anything, I just buried my head and fired as hard as I could," Staal said of the goal. "The last couple were pretty much the same shot, and that one went in."
The fresh faces ended up with their hands in a win, Bylsma ended up with a game puck.
"It's kind of a rewarding win, to get the 100th one, just the way our team did it," Bylsma said.
Seth Rorabaugh contributed to this report. For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1721 First Published February 11, 2011 5:00 AM