PITTSBURGH (AP) — A chaotic 72 hours for Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic started with a goal and ended with a shutout.
Nedeljkovic stopped 38 shots in his return from injury and the Pittsburgh Penguins shut out the Vegas Golden Knights 3-0 on Sunday night.
Nedeljkovic recorded his first shutout of the season and the eighth of his career. It was his first shutout since April 24, 2022, when he was a member of the Detroit Red Wings.
Nedeljkovic said an eventual return to practice and subsequent conditioning stint on Friday with the Penguins’ American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton helped prepare for Sunday’s shutout against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
“Until you get in a game, you’re never really sure,” Nedeljkovic said. “You can’t stop or take it slow. You have to be ready for anything, so (Friday’s game) was great and I got to push it a little bit. It responded well.”
Nedeljkovic has been out since suffering a lower-body injury during a loss against Dallas on Oct. 24. He missed 10 games and was activated off long-term injured reserve on Sunday. Nedeljkovic scored a goal on Friday with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. It was the second of his career.
Ryan Graves and Noel Acciari both scored their first of the season and first goal with Pittsburgh. Evgeni Malkin added a late empty-net goal to seal the win. Jake Guentzel continued an eight-game point streak with an assist on the goal, as Pittsburgh snapped a brief two-game skid.
Sidney Crosby and Erik Karlsson both saw lengthy point streaks end.
Crosby was on an 11-game point streak, which was the third-longest active in the league. Karlsson was on an eight-game point streak, the longest among NHL defensemen. Crosby has been held without a point twice in 17 games this season.
Adin Hill made 30 saves for the Golden Knights. Vegas started the season 11-0-1, but the Golden Knights have lost five of seven since.
Vegas played its fourth game of a season-long five-game road trip on Sunday. Vegas has been shut out twice on its current road trip.
“I thought we had chances,” center Jack Eichel said. “Just didn’t finish any of them. We’ve got to find a way to score goals.”
Penguins forward Reilly Smith played his former team for the first time since he was acquired by Pittsburgh in June. Smith, who was picked by the Golden Knights in the 2017 expansion draft, helped Vegas to a Stanley Cup last season and is among the franchise leaders in goals, points, assists and games played.
Graves opened the scoring for Pittsburgh at 2:13 of the first period. The Penguins have scored the first goal in 14 of their 17 games, tops in the NHL.
“My main objective is not to come here and score goals, but it’s definitely nice when you can chip in,” Graves said.
Acciari gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead at 11:39 of the second period. Hill was on the opposite post when Alec Martinez, his defenseman, mistakenly sent a pass in front to Acciari, who scored for Pittsburgh.
“In the first period, (Graves) got us started,” Acciari said. “We needed a push in the second. I think we kind of let off the gas a bit. Just getting a little breathing room is definitely helpful.”
Golden Knights: Close a five-game road trip Wednesday at Dallas.
Penguins: Host the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
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