The Pittsburgh Penguins’ struggling power play finally broke through in the club’s third consecutive victory.
Now they’ll be getting an emotional lift with the return of Pascal Dupuis.
Dupuis will take the ice in a meaningful game for the first time in nearly a year and try to help the Penguins close out their longest homestand of the season with another win Thursday night against the Dallas Stars.
The 36-year-old Dupuis was limited to just 55 games over the past two seasons because of a torn ACL and separate bouts with blood clots. He also missed the first month of 2015-16 with a lower-body injury. Dupuis had scored six goals in 16 games last season before he missed the final five months because of blood clots that threatened his career.
"I’m feeling great," the veteran forward told the Penguins’ official website. "I got the OK to go tonight so I’m pretty excited… It was a matter of getting reps with the team, getting back into some kind of shape that allows me to play."
Pittsburgh (3-3-0) had been 0 for 17 on the power play before a 2-for-3 performance in Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime victory against Florida.
Sidney Crosby, suffering through his longest point drought to begin a season, finally got on the scoresheet with a first-period power-play goal. He also assisted on Phil Kessel’s even-strength goal in the second and Evgeni Malkin’s winning power-play score.
The Penguins, closing out a five-game home stretch before playing six of seven on the road, are averaging 33.7 shots but just 1.7 goals.
"I thought we generated some good chances all night," said Crosby, who has seven goals and two assists in four career home games against Dallas. "Could’ve had more, but it’s nice to see that first one go in."
Malkin has scored in three straight games after going without a goal in 13 straight dating to last season – the second-longest drought of his career. Two have been game-winners, already half of his total from a season ago.
"He’s a dominant player," defenseman Kris Letang, second on the club with four points, told the team’s official website. "It’s the player that we expect him to be."
Dallas (5-1-0) has been flourishing on offense behind Tyler Seguin and Jamie Bennis, averaging 3.5 goals and finding the net on six of 20 power-play opportunities. The Stars have won four in a row – the last three coming on the road.
Seguin and Benn each had a goal and an assist in Tuesday’s 2-1 win at Philadelphia as the Stars continued to erase memories of last year’s slow start when they dropped 17 of their first 26 contests and finished seven points out of a playoff spot.
"It’s been our message the last six months," Seguin said. "Our start is huge. We’re playing good hockey and finding ways to win."
Seguin and Benn have 10 points apiece, trailing only Boston’s David Krejci (11) for the league lead. They’re the franchise’s first teammates with 10 points apiece through the first six games since Brian Bellows, Mike Gartner and Larry Murphy combined for 32 points in 1989-90 for the Minnesota North Stars.
No teammates had done it league-wide since Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski for San Jose and Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos for Tampa Bay in 2012-13.
While Dallas’ excellent offense doesn’t exactly come as a surprise considering the team added Patrick Sharp after finishing second in the league with 3.1 goals per game in 2014-15, the goaltending has been a revelation.
The Stars ranked 29th last season with a .895 save percentage, but new addition Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen have combined for a .925 mark thus far.
Benn has five goals in his last six meetings with Pittsburgh, and Dallas has won three straight matchups while limiting the Penguins to three goals.