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Jokinen leads Penguins past Rangers in shootout

by Chris Adamski /

PITTSBURGH -- Hours after being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, Jussi Jokinen watched helplessly as his new team was torched by the opposition's newest players.

Two days later, Jokinen became the latest NHL trade deadline acquisition to make an instant impact with his new team.

Jokinen scored in regulation and again in the shootout during his Penguins debut, leading Pittsburgh to a 2-1 victory against the New York Rangers on Friday night.

"He told us in the morning he was going to help us any way he could," Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "Obviously, he came up big for us."

Marc-Andre Fleury held off the Rangers until Rick Nash tied it with 4:49 left in regulation, two seconds after a power play expired. That allowed the Rangers to avoid being shut out for the second time in three weeks by Fleury at Consol Energy Center.

Pittsburgh's Pascal Dupuis was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct while the Penguins were seeking retribution on Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto; Pittsburgh winger James Neal left the game with about 8 1/2 minutes to play in regulation after being caught in the face by the elbow of Del Zotto.

Neal stayed down for several moments and looked woozy as training personnel attended to him. But he skated off on his own power. Through coach Dan Bylsma, the team provided no update on his condition other than to say, "We'll see in the next few days how he's doing."

Known for his shootout proficiency, Jokinen opened the tiebreaker by using what he called his "No. 1 move." Jokinen beat Henrik Lundqvist after skating down the right wing and cutting across the slot. He was the only shooter to score for either team, moving into a tie with Zach Parise and Pavel Datsyuk for the career lead with 32 shootout goals.

"We got him to the shootout to show off his skill," Bylsma said.

Jokinen also broke a scoreless tie when he scored 30 seconds into the third period for Pittsburgh (29-10-0), which had lost its previous two games after a 15-game winning streak. The Rangers beat the Penguins 6-1 in New York on Wednesday in the first half of a home-and-home series.

New York newcomers Ryane Clowe, Derick Brassard and John Moore combined for eight points against the Penguins at Madison Square Garden that night after being picked up in trades Tuesday and Wednesday. All three were shut out in the return match. The play of Jokinen played a part in that. The Finn, who turned 30 on Monday, won 13 of 15 faceoffs and was credited with a takeaway in 15:02 of ice time.

Jokinen scored his seventh of the season on his ninth shift with the Penguins and his only shot on goal of the game. He one-timed a feed from Chris Kunitz as he slowly skated backwards in the left circle. Kunitz was behind the goal line and to the right of Lundqvist when he made the pass.

"Obviously, when you come to a new team you always want to make a good first impression, and I made a huge one," Jokinen said. "I was just trying to play solid defensive hockey, and I was able to get some faceoff wins... I think [more offense] will come when we keep working hard and keep creating turnovers."

Jokinen's line provided what appeared to be all the offense Pittsburgh would need until Nash's 14th of the season, which came three seconds after a lengthy review looking into whether the puck had crossed the goal line as Fleury sprawled out into the net.

A video ruling confirmed the on-ice call of no goal -- but Stepan extended his point streak to three games when he won the ensuring faceoff in the left circle back to Nash, who in one motion wristed it past Fleury for his fourth goal in six games.

That ruined Fleury's chance for his second shutout of the season. At one point late in the second period, Fleury was without his glove when it got knocked off and kicked behind the net. Fleury maintained his positioning and held his bare hand out as if it was gloved while play continued.

A New York shot was blocked, and an official retrieved the glove and handed it to him as play went the other way.

"(Play) kept going, so I just tried to get in front of it," Fleury said. "Might as well try... You don't want to just let it in. I gave it a shot."

Fleury made 34 saves during regulation and overtime and remained perfect this season in three shootouts, bouncing back after allowing a season-high six goals Wednesday. Aside from that blowout loss, Fleury has allowed a total of three goals in his past six outings -- five of them starts.

"He was the main story," Dupuis said. "[The media is] probably going to talk about the new guy a little more, but [Fleury] was solid back there, and he's the reason why we won tonight."

Still, Nash's goal earned the Rangers (18-15-4) a single point and moved them past the New York Islanders into seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Both teams have 40 points, one more than the ninth-place New Jersey Devils, two ahead of the Winnipeg Jets and three more than the Philadelphia Flyers; the Rangers are seventh because they've played fewer games.

Playing in his 500th game -- all with the Rangers -- Lundqvist allowed fewer than three goals for the ninth consecutive start. He made 26 saves through 65 minutes, but it wasn't enough for New York to win its third straight.

Lundqvist said he tweaked his hamstring on Jokinen's shootout attempt but "it's fine, I think."

"It felt better after a minute or two, so hopefully it's nothing... I'm not too worried about it; I think it will be fine for tomorrow."

The Rangers play the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh on Saturday night.

The incident between Del Zotto and Neal heightened an already-intense rivalry. Lundqvist was upset he got bumped by Penguins agitator Matt Cooke's stick during the third period.

"I don't know what he is doing, seriously," Lundqvist said. "It's just ridiculous. It's not the first time, right? It's him being him."

Coming off a season high for goals on Wednesday, the Rangers were much less potent. But as a group after the game, they were satisfied with their effort against the League's highest-scoring team.

"I thought we played the style of hockey that we like to play," New York captain Ryan Callahan said. "It's a positive game. We get one point. We battle back in a tough place to play and get a point in the third period."

The Penguins were playing their third game without Sidney Crosby, who sustained a broken jaw in a win against the Islanders on Saturday. He is out indefinitely. Pittsburgh also was out top defensemen Paul Martin and Kris Letang.

The Penguins, who have not lost three in a row all season, extended their lead in the Atlantic Division to 18 points over the Rangers and Islanders and moved up five points over the Montreal Canadiens for the Eastern Conference lead.

Pittsburgh's long winning streak was snapped Tuesday by the Buffalo Sabres -- the Penguins' only loss at Consol Energy Center in their past 14.

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