VANCOUVER // On Friday, the Tri-City Americans' netminder Alexander Pechurski was playing in a junior game in Kennewick, Washington. Just 24 hours later, the 19-year-old Russian found himself wearing borrowed pads and tending goal for the injury-hit Pittsburgh Penguins as the Stanley Cup champions wrapped up their Canadian West Coast swing against the Vancouver Canucks.
With their top netminder, Marc-Andre Fleury, and his backup, Brent Johnson, out with injuries, the Penguins called up Pechurski and John Curry from their American Hockey League affiliate. Curry was handed the start but was pulled from the game early in the second period after surrendering five goals on 14 shots. Pechurski, who signed a one-day amateur try-out contract just before the opening face off, was thrust into the action with almost 19,000 fans watching his every move.
The 150th overall pick by the Penguins in the 2008 draft held his own, stopping 12 of 13 shots as Pittsburgh slumped to a 6-2 defeat. His performance was one of the few bright spots for the Penguins and earned high praise from the team captain, Sidney Crosby. "He showed a lot of poise, that's not an easy situation to go into," Crosby said. "He showed a lot of guts coming in like that and playing the way he did.
"He passed the test big time." After the game, the beaming teenager, who had arrived in North America from Russia only three weeks ago, basked in the spotlight as he packed his bags to return to the Western Hockey League's Americans. "I was really surprised, at the same time I was happy I had the chance to play," said Pechurski. "It is a dream coming true to play in the NHL. " The Penguins opened the scoring with a goal from Evgeni Malkin before the Canucks scored five in a row to chase Curry
Elsewhere in the NHL, Steve Ott's goal in the sixth round of a shoot out helped the Dallas Stars beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 and end a three-game skid. Alex Auld, the Dallas goalie, and Detroit's Jimmy Howard were perfect in the first five rounds before Ott backhanded a shot through Howard's pads. Jonathan Toews scored twice in the third period and added an assist as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Columbs Blue Jackets 6-5, while the San Jose Sharks' Devin Setoguchi scored a pair inside two minutes to lead his team to a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers, who have lost seven in a row.
Craig Anderson made 37 saves and Chris Stewart and TJ Galiardi scored for the Colorado Avalanche as they hung on to beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1. Wojtek Wolski scored an empty-net goal with 12.3 seconds left to seal the win. Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar scored in the third period and got both Los Angeles Kings' goals in a shoot out to beat the Boston Bruins 4-3, while Trent Hunter's goal in the eighth round of a shoot out made the New York Islanders' netminder Rick DiPietro a winner in his first home game in more than a year after a knee injury. The Islanders beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2.
The Ottawa Senators beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-2, the Florida Panthers cruised to a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the St Louis Blues beat the New York Rangers 4-1 for their fourth consecutive win, the Phoenix Coyotes edged the Minnesota Wild 6-4 and the Atlanta Thrashers fought back from a two-goal deficit to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3.