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Final in Pittsburgh; Penguins 2, Kings 1 in OT

February 10, 2011 |  6:43 pm

Jordan Staal stole the puck from Jack Johnson and rifled the puck off Jonathan Quick's arm and into the net with 18.4 seconds left in overtime Thursday to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 2-1 victory over the Kings at the Consol Energy Center.

Though ravaged by injuries the Penguins put up an excellent fight. Playing without Sidney Crosby (concussion), Evgeni Malkin, who underwent season-ending surgery on his right knee Thursday and is expected to be back by training camp, winger Chris Kunitz (lower-body injury) and an assortment of other incapacitated forwards, the Penguins had to rely on grit instead of skill and did a good job of it.

Each team scored once in the first period. Left wing Brett Sterling, a Pasadena native who was called up from the Penguins’ farm team Thursday morning, took a pass from Dustin Jeffrey and lifted a quick shot over Quick from the slot at 6:53. Jeffrey, called up from the American Hockey League with Sterling, was injured during the second period and did not return.

That goal was only the third for the Penguins in the last three games.

The Kings pulled even at 17:17 of the first period. Ryan Smyth carried the puck up the right side, cut to the middle of the ice and flicked it ahead to Jarret Stoll. He got around defenseman Zbynek Michalek —who had previously made two excellent plays to frustrate the Kings on prime scoring chances — and slid the rolling puck past Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Penguins outshot the Kings, 11-2, in the second period but Quick was up to the test.  The Kings probably had the best scoring chance of the period, a shorthanded drive to the net by Alexei Ponikarovsky, who finished last season with the Penguins after being traded from Toronto to Pittsburgh.

Justin Williams had an excellent chance to put the Kings ahead in the third period, when he skated up the right side with Ponikarovsky on a two-on-one, but Fleury stopped Williams’ close-in effort at 11:19.

Quick made a fine save in overtime on Staal before Staal scored.

The Kings’ road odyssey continues Saturday at Washington against the Capitals.

-- Helene Elliott, in Pittsburgh

Photo: Jordan Staal, right, scores the winning goal past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick in overtime. Credit: Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press