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Aftermath: Penguins 3, Rangers 0

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
  
LINKS
Recap (AP) | Photo Gallery | Highlights

Therrien | Crosby | Minard | Fleury
Pre-Game Show | Crash The Net
QUICK ANALYSIS
 
The Penguins put together a complete performance en route to a 3-0 victory over New York to record back-to-back wins for the first time since mid-November. Pittsburgh played a disciplined game and was sound in their execution of the trap. When there were breakdowns, Marc-Andre Fleury was there to bail the team out.

The Penguins stayed out of the penalty box because they were in good position on the ice and beat the Rangers to loose pucks. Pittsburgh won the battles in the trenches and controlled the puck for a majority of the game.

In the third period, the Penguins played shutdown hockey - opting to dump the puck and cycle along the boards to kill the clock. They consumed the neutral zone with their trap and collapsed to the goal when the puck was in their own zone.

The Penguins have won three of their past four games and climbed back into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
 
WHAT HAPPENED
 
(AP) - Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 33 shots, Petr Sykora had a goal and an assist and Sidney Crosby returned to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-0 victory over the New York Rangers on Sunday.

Fleury posted his second shutout of the season and 13th of his career, while Chris Minard and Tyler Kennedy added goals for Pittsburgh.

The Penguins have won three of their last four games and moved back into playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

Crosby was back in the lineup after sitting out Friday's game with an apparent knee injury. He missed a penalty shot early in the second period and saw his five-game scoring streak end. Crosby was hurt during Wednesday's loss to Washington.
 
SHOT OF THE NIGHT

Marc-Andre Fleury shows his support for the Steelers after being named the game's No. 1 star
(photo by Getty)
ESSENTIALS
 
What Worked: Passion
Pittsburgh was the better team for the entire 60 minutes against the Rangers. The Penguins weren’t doing anything special tactical- or systematic-wise. Pittsburgh was simply playing with passion. They skated hard, fought for loose pucks, played physical and even roughed it up with the Rangers at times. Pittsburgh won all the small battles and the results were demonstrative.

What Didn't Work: Shots
The Penguins were outshot in the game, 33-23. The Rangers recorded 16 shots in the second period and 10 shots in the third. Luckily for the Penguins, Marc-Andre Fleury turned all 33 New York shots aside. 
 
DIFFERENCE MAKER
 
The best player in the game for either team was goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins need him to be the best player on the ice in every game. Fleury was the difference in the game. He played aggressive in his crease and challenged shooters to earn his second shutout of the season and 13th of his career. Fleury’s reflexes were on mark with a couple of sliding saves on lateral moves. Also, his technique - positioning, squaring his body and lateral movement - was sound. Fleury shut the door on New York to keep them out of the game. He turned aside 33 shots in all. After being named the game’s No. 1 star, Fleury took the ice with a Steelers helmet and terrible towel to show support for the Steelers, who host the NLF’s AFC Championship Game later in the day.
 
SCORING SYNOPSIS
 
Pittsburgh opened the game’s scoring on Chris Minard’s first goal of the season. The play was made by Petr Sykora, who had the puck behind the Rangers net. He made a nifty backhand pass to Minard in the slot. Minard, who just changed his number to 14, one-timed a blast behind Henrik Lundqvist. Pittsburgh 1, New York 0.

The Penguins struck again, thanks in large part to Miroslav Satan. The Slovak native carried the puck into the zone and dropped it to Tyler Kennedy. Satan then ran into Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, creating a little interference. Satan’s move knocked Staal out of the play and Kennedy had room to skate in for a shot. He hit the top-left corner and knocked the water bottle off the net. Pittsburgh 2, New York 0.

Ryan Whitney made an incredible breakout pass to spring Sykora for a power-play goal. Whitney had the puck in his own zone while Sykora sneaked behind the Rangers Paul Mara at the New York blue line. Whitney hit his own blue line before rifling a pass between Mara and Dmitri Kalinin to send Sykora in for a breakaway. Sykora nailed a shot between the pads of Lundqvist for his 17th of the season. Pittsburgh 3, New York 0.
 
INTRIGUING NOTABLES
 
The Penguins had a healthier lineup in their matchup with the Rangers. Sidney Crosby, Rob Scuderi and Kris Letang - all of whom missed the team’s previous game - returned to action for Pittsburgh. Scuderi wore a half-shield on his helmet to protect his swollen eye. Defensemen Brooks Orpik (undisclosed) and Alex Goligoski (illness) and forward Janne Pesonen (healthy) were the Penguins’ scratches.

The Curse was broken when the Jumbotron finally played the “Kennedy” video clip. WWE wrestler Mr. Kennedy filmed the piece last season, in which he repeats the phrase “Kennedy…Kennedy.” The Penguins were waiting to unveil the video the next time Tyler scored at Mellon Arena. Unfortunately, he went on a home goal-scoring drought. He went 31 games, including last year’s postseason, without a goal at Mellon Arena until this afternoon (Last time: March 16, 2008 vs. Philadelphia).

Crosby undressed Wade Redden at the blue line and skated by three Rangers for a breakaway. He was hauled down but still got a shot off that Henrik Lundqvist turned aside. Crosby was awarded a penalty shot. He skated to the high slot and sent in a quick wrist shot on net that Lundqvist stopped.

Colton Orr targeted Crosby and Orpik in past games against Pittsburgh, hitting them even when they didn’t have the puck. Eric Godard wanted to send a message early by trying to drop the gloves with Orr. Orr declined the offer. Godard tried again in the second period when Pittsburgh was leading 3-0. Even though a fight could have provided a spark for the Rangers, Orr again declined. Of course, Orr did take some liberties on Crosby later in that period.
 
GAME NOTES
 
> Pittsburgh improved to 23-20-4 on the year, with an 11-9-2 mark at Mellon Arena. Pittsburgh has won three of its past four games, including back-to-back wins for the first time since Nov. 13-15 - the end of a six-game winning streak.

> Pittsburgh opened the scoring at 7:35 of the first period with Chris Minard’s first goal of the season. Tyler Kennedy tallied his eighth of the season at 15:32 to extend the lead, 2-0. In the second period, Petr Sykora netted a power-play goal (17) to give Pittsburgh a 3-0 advantage.

> Evgeni Malkin didn’t score against the Rangers but still leads the NHL in points with 69 (18G-51A). Malkin’s 51 assists are a league best.

> Sidney Crosby did not record a point against New York. He is still second in the league in scoring with 59 points (17G-42A) and his 42 assists are second most in the league behind teammate Malkin’s 51 (as of this afternoon).

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 33 saves to record his second shutout of the season and 13th of his career.

> Petr Sykora tallied a goal and assist against New York for his eighth two-point game of the season.

> Tyelr Kennedy broke a 32-game goal-less streak at home (including playoffs) with his eighth of the year.

> Minard scored his first goal of the season.

> Penguins fans were sporting their Steelers jerseys and terrible towels in support for the Steelers, who play later in the day in the AFC Championship Game.

> Mellon Arena sold out for the 89th straight game with a standing room only attendance of 17,024.
 
THREE STARS QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
   
1. Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT
2. Petr Sykora, PIT
3. Chris Minard, PIT
"I thought the guys did a great job in not giving them too
many scoring chances, and we got some turnovers,
good chances, and we got some goals early. So that
was a big game for us."
- Marc-Andre Fleury
 

 



Author: Sam Kasan

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