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Penguins celebrate NHL crown but lose as new season begins

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Los Angeles (AFP)

The Pittsburgh Penguins unfurled their Stanley Cup championship banner from last season Wednesday but began the new National Hockey League campaign with a 5-4 loss to visiting St. Louis.

Alex Pietrangelo scored his second goal of the game 75 seconds into over-time to lift the Blues to victory, taking some of the sparkle off the championship celebration.

With the trophy displayed on a table on the ice before the contest, Penguins players and a sellout crowd of supporters cheered and celebrated Pittsburgh's 4-2 victory over Nashville in last June's best-of-seven final.

A fifth championship banner was raised to the arena rafters following titles in 1991, 1992, 2009 and 2016.

It marked the third career NHL crown for Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, last season's NHL goals leader and NHL playoffs Most Valuable Player. Crosby scored the gold-medal over-time goal for Canada in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic final.

Justin Schultz took a pass from Crosby and scored the Penguins' opening goal of the season after only 6:37 but St. Louis equalized just 1:54 later on a Brayden Schenn tally.

Colton Parayko boosted the Blues ahead 2-1 on a power-play goal with only 2:15 remaining in the first period.

Olli Maatta equalized for the Penguins with 12:37 elapsed in the second period but Pietrangelo responded for the Blues exactly three minutes later to put St. Louis ahead 3-2 entering the third period.

Paul Stastny scored 3:38 into the final period to boost the Blues' lead to 4-2 but the Penguins answered, Crosby netting a power-play goal with 6:14 remaining and Conor Sheary scored the equalizer 54 seconds later to pull Pittsburgh level 4-4 and force over-time.

In the NHL's season-opening game in Canada, the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs routed Winnipeg 7-2.

The Maple Leafs scored three goals in a 2:38 span late in the first period to seize command with Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk and William Nylander finding the net for Toronto in the run.

Patrick Marleau stretched the edge to 4-0 just 8:32 into the second period and netted another goal only 36 seconds into the third to give the Maple Leafs a 5-0 advantage.

Mitchell Marner put Toronto ahead 6-0 on a power-play goal with 11:53 remaining.

Winnipeg finally answered on Mark Scheifele's goal with 8:29 remaining.

Toronto's Auston Matthews, who scored four goals in last season's opener in his NHL debut, responded for the Leafs with 8:03 to play but Mathieu Perreault answered for the Jets one minute later to lift Winnipeg within the final margin.

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