Kempe scores twice late as Kings spoil 'Jaromir Jagr Day' with 2-1 win over Penguins

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Los Angeles Kings' Adrian Kempe (9) returns to the bench after scoring his second goal of the third period during an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH – Adrian Kempe scored twice in the third period, including a short-handed go-ahead goal with 3:10 to play as the Los Angeles Kings rallied past the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 on Sunday night.

The Kings won their third straight to finish off a four-game road trip by beating the Penguins on a night Pittsburgh honored franchise icon Jaromir Jagr, who had his No. 68 retired during a pregame ceremony.

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Sidney Crosby scored his 31st goal of the season for Pittsburgh with a power-play goal late in the first period but the Penguins let a chance to build momentum at the start of a pivotal four-game homestand slip away over the final 20 minutes.

Kempe tied it with 6:11 to play with a slap shot from the point that appeared to deflect off Pittsburgh's Rickard Rakell to get past Tristan Jarry.

Just over three minutes later Kempe gave the Kings the lead when he finished off a shorthanded two-on-one by ripping a wrist shot between Jarry's legs as Los Angeles backed up an impressive win in Boston on Saturday by spoiling Jagr's return to Pittsburgh.

Cam Talbot finished with 29 saves for Los Angeles, which has won five of six.

The Penguins, scrambling to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff race, struggled to generate much offensively while playing without second-leading scorer Jake Guentzel, who is out for up to four weeks with an upper-body injury. Jarry made 31 saves and was just over six minutes away from his NHL-leading seventh shutout when things fell apart.

Crosby practically willed the Penguins to victory last Thursday in their first game without Guentzel, scoring twice in a win at Chicago. He seemed poised to do it again when he rifled a shot by Talbot to put Pittsburgh in front with Jagr — the NHL's second all-time leading scorer — watching from a luxury suite.

Yet the Penguins, who have had trouble finding the back of the net all season, couldn't add on while letting a lead entering the third period get away for the fourth time.

The comeback put a damper on “Jaromir Jagr Day" in Pittsburgh. The 52-year-old kicked off a joyous return to the city where he played the first 11 of his 24 NHL seasons by watching his No. 68 join Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux's No. 66 and Michel Briere's No. 21 in the rafters at PPG Paints Arena.

The 40-minute jersey retirement ceremony — which included a Jagr speech peppered with one-liners — was followed shortly thereafter by the Penguins coming onto the ice for warm-ups wearing No. 68 jerseys and mulleted wigs in honor of Jagr's iconic hairstyle during his early years as a pro.

Jagr himself joined in, flipping pucks into an empty net before doing one final lap as the sellout crowd — many of them wearing a jersey from one of Jagr's various stops — gave him one last ovation 23 years in the making.


Kings: Host Columbus on Tuesday night.

Penguins: Continue a four-game homestand on Tuesday night against the New York Islanders.



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