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Penguins nip Rangers, 1-0

Wednesday, 10.24.2007 / 1:52 AM / Roundup

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Despite the best efforts of Scott Gomez and the New York Rangers, Marc-Andre Fleury shut the door, stopping all 36 shots he faced in the Pittsburgh Penguins' 1-0 win.
The New York Rangers are in a scoring slump of historic proportions.

Evgeni Malkin scored the game’s only goal as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Rangers, 1-0, on Tuesday night – marking the first time since they entered the NHL in 1926 that the Rangers have lost back-to-back 1-0 games. They dropped a 1-0 shootout in Boston on Saturday and have gone more than 125 minutes without a goal.

The only other time the Rangers had a stretch like this was March 1936, when they sandwiched 0-0 ties around a 1-0 loss to the New York Americans.

“It's going to come. You’ve got to believe,” Jaromir Jagr, off to the worst start of his 17-season career with only one goal in eight games, said of the Rangers’ missing offense. “There's nothing else to do; you can't do anything else.”

New York’s Henrik Lundqvist was almost perfect in goal, stopping 21 of 22 shots – including a penalty shot by Jordan Staal. But Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury was perfect, stopping all 36 shots he faced.

The Penguins capitalized on a penalty to Ryan Callahan when Sidney Crosby fed defenseman Ryan Whitney, who threw a hard pass that hit Malkin’s stick and deflected into the net 44 seconds into the middle period.

“It was an easy play,” Whitney said. “Sid put it right on my stick.”

Less than a minute later, Staal was awarded a penalty shot when he was hooked on a breakaway by Fedor Tyutin, but Lundqvist easily stopped his shot.

The Rangers are 2-5-1 in their first eight games; Lundqvist has played all eight and has allowed more than three goals just once.

“Your heart just goes out to him,” Drury said of Lundqvist. “Hopefully he hangs in there and keeps making saves for us. We owe him a lot of goals.”

The last time the Rangers struggled this badly at the start of the season was 1950, when they got just nine goals in their first eight games. But Fleury said he never relaxed.

“They've got so many skilled players, you never know what's coming on the next shot,” Fleury said. “You've always got to stay ready.”

The Rangers picked the wrong time to face Fleury, who had been up and down before making 30 saves in a 2-1 win over Washington on Saturday. He has now stopped 66 of the last 67 shots he’s faced.

“You saw it Saturday night, you saw it tonight, he was the best player on our team,” Whitney said of Fleury, who allowed 18 goals in his first five games. “No one lost faith in him and he worked as hard as he could in practice. We're all real pumped for him.”

Thrashers 5, Maple Leafs 4, SO | Video
Atlanta is getting off the mat. The Thrashers got their second victory of the season on Ilya Kovalchuk’s deciding goal in the shootout after Toronto earned a point in the final seconds of regulation. They’re now 2-1-0 since GM Don Waddell fired coach Bob Hartley following an 0-6-0 start and went behind the bench himself. Tuesday night’s victory was their first of the season on the road.

“It’s just nice to get a win and help ourselves get over the hump," said defenseman Ken Klee, a former Maple Leaf. “We really needed this. It wasn't pretty by any means, but we'll take this and try to build on it on this road trip.”

After more than a minute of pressure, Toronto’s Alex Ponikarovsky stuffed the puck past Johan Hedberg with 10 seconds left in regulation to force OT. After a scoreless overtime, Toronto’s Nik Antropov and Atlanta’s Slava Kozlov both scored in the first round of the shootout. Mats Sundin, Marian Hossa and Jason Blake failed before Kovalchuk deked Vesa Toskala and put the puck into the top corner for the win.

“That’s the team you don’t want to get in a shootout with,” Leafs coach Paul Maurice said.

Sundin scored 13 seconds into the game, but Atlanta took a 2-1 lead after one period on goals by rookie Tobias Enstrom and Kovalchuk. The Leafs got goals from Hal Gill and Antropov, sandwiched around Eric Perrin’s goal, to pull even at 3-3 after two periods. Todd White scored with 6:58 left in regulation to give the Thrashers the lead they couldn’t hold.

“We're playing great in spurts,” said Leafs forward Jason Blake, who had three assists. “I don’t know why that is. I don’t know how we fix it.”

The Leafs had better find some answers: They’re just 3-4-3 despite playing eight of their first 10 games at home, but play six of their next seven away from the Air Canada Centre.

“It’s all about the wins right now, and we didn't win,” forward Alex Steen said. “One point is not good enough for us.”

Blue Jackets 7, Blackhawks 4
Columbus proved it can win games without pitching shutouts – as long as Rick Nash keeps filling the net.

Nash and Jiri Novotny each scored twice as Columbus won for the fourth time this season, but the first time when allowing the opposition to score. Pascal Leclaire had pitched shutouts in the Jackets’ first three victories.

Chicago Blackhawks' Kevyn Adams blocks out Columbus Blue Jackets' Jiri Novotny during the third period.

Nash now has a four-game goal-scoring streak, during which he has five goals and three assists.

“It's just kind of the way I usually like to play, driving to the net,” Nash said. “And we’re coming together as a line. We're getting some chemistry.”

Nash’s center, Michael Peca, had three assists, while linemate Nikolai Zherdev also had a goal.

“I don't even know if Rick Nash is on a hot streak,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “He's like a horse, and when he's playing this way he's hard to stop.”

Sergei Fedorov’s goal in the final minute of the second period broke a 3-3 tie.

The best news for Chicago was the continued production from their two kids. No. 1 draft pick Patrick Kane had two goals and two assists and is now 3-10-13 in nine games. “I didn’t play that well,” Kane said. “I think I just got the bounces. Things kind of went my way. We’ve got to come out harder, stop going down 2-0 and trying to come back all the time. We're going to have to work on that.”

Jonathan Toews, the No. 3 overall pick in 2006, also scored and has a point in each of the seven games he’s played.

“The kids were awesome,” Chicago coach Denis Savard said. “That line (Kane, Toews and Jason Williams) has been by far the best for us.”

Blues 4, Ducks 2 | Video
The Blues opened their wallet this summer to bring Paul Kariya to St. Louis. He’s wasting little time showing that he’s a good investment.

The trio of Kariya, Brad Boyes and Keith Tkachuk laid waste to the defending Stanley Cup champs, with Kariya setting up two goals by Boyes and one by Tkachuk – all in the second period – before hitting the empty net to wrap up the win. Kariya, who had 72 points for Nashville last season, has nine assists and 11 points for the Blues in his first seven games. He credited his linemates, Tkachuk and Boyes, for helping with his spurt. “(Tkachuk) got us going,” Kariya said. “He was going to the net, creating a lot of traffic, and it was nice to see him rewarded there.”

Tkachuk also had two assists. Boyes now has six goals in seven games playing with Kariya.

“It’s taken me 21 games just to score one (before),” said Boyes, who came to the Blues from Boston last season. “But I come here and it’s been good. It’s easy when you’re playing with those guys, but I still think we can improve.”

Manny Legace had 14 saves and improved to 9-1-1 lifetime against Anaheim. He hasn't lost to the Ducks since Nov. 16, 1998.

Andy McDonald and Mark Mowers scored for the Ducks, who fell to 0-5-1 on the road – including a loss to Los Angeles in London. “It was a hard-fought battle,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “This is the type of game we've been involved with for a while here. I thought our guys reached back and gave us everything they had. I’ve got to be proud of their effort.”

Kings 6, Predators 0 | Video
Los Angeles may be coming out of its early-season funk. The Predators are sinking deeper into theirs.

The Kings’ Jason LaBarbera stopped 17 shots for his second career shutout as the Predators were blanked for the second straight game. They’ve gone 137:36 without scoring a goal, have

Los Angeles Kings' goaltender Jason LaBarbera looks to prevent Nashville Predators' Jordin Tootoo from scoring.

scored just once in three games, and have dropped six in a row. Meanwhile, the Kings are 3-1 in their last four after a 1-5-0 start and have won back-to-back games for the first time this season. LaBarbera has been in goal for both wins.

“We’re starting to feel confident and trust each other,” he said. “We had a lot of new guys, and we’re getting used to each other. I’m feeling more confident in net.”

Captain Rob Blake, who had two assists, praised LaBarbera, who appears to have taken over the No. 1 job on a team that has already played three goaltenders.

“Jason played very well against Vancouver (last Friday), and he backed it up tonight,” Blake said.

Mike Cammalleri had two goals and leads the NHL with 10 as the Kings handed the Predators their sixth consecutive loss after starting the season with two wins. They have been outscored 28-9 during the losing streak, their longest since they dropped six straight March 10-21, 2002.

Material from wire services was used in this report.

Quote of the Day

It's a little different but it feels amazing. A new chapter in my life and I'm excited. It's been amazing. Better than I expected. The weather is great, the place is just amazing. I can't say enough good things about it. I'm glad to get the season going.

— Ryan Kesler on his transition to the Anaheim Ducks