Pittsburgh showed its grit and character by scratching and clawing its way to a gutsy 4-3 shootout victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden despite an injury-riddled lineup. The Penguins rebounded from a 2-0 deficit to score three straight goals in a span of 9:22 to earn a 3-2 lead with 5:48 left in the second period.
And although the Rangers eventually deadlocked the game at 3-3 with 12 seconds left in the middle frame, the Penguins held onto the tie and forced overtime despite being outshot 11-3 in the third period with an outstanding defensive effort, powered by the continually fantastic play of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Penguins entered Tuesday’s tilt with offensive stalwarts Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin sidelined, then lost Mark Letestu to a lower-body injury at morning skate. During the game, Pittsburgh lost Arron Asham to an upper-body injury in the second period and had to play without Chris Conner for a portion of the game after he blocked a heavy shot.
To top it off, the Penguins had to play without the services of Jordan Staal when he was assessed a game misconduct with 4:33 remaining in the second, forcing them to rotate their three remaining centers through four lines.
But along with their solid defensive play, the Penguins got stellar performances from their forwards all across the board. Chris Kunitz had an especially great outing, scoring a goal and an assist and generally being a force all over the ice. Him and linemate Pascal Dupuis have been consistent on the Penguins’ top line no matter who their center is.
And on Tuesday, that center was Dustin Jeffrey, who absolutely shined for the Penguins and epitomized everything the Penguins need their players to be. He scored the game-deciding shootout goal, netted a goal in regulation and came up big in an expanded role after being recalled just this morning from Wikes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.
While Marc-Andre Fleury put up yet another outstanding performance in goal, stoning all seven Rangers in the shootout, Dustin Jeffrey deserves a plethora of accolades for his play on Tuesday.
With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin sidelined and fellow center Mark Letestu sustaining a lower-body injury during the Penguins’ morning skate, Jeffrey was instantly thrust into a more expanded role than ever after being recalled by Pittsburgh Tuesday morning from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League to supplement the team's injury-riddled lineup.
“I know he’s excited to get to play tonight and show what he can do at this level,” head coach Dan Bylsma said following the Penguins’ morning skate. “Hopefully it turns into a bigger opportunity for him.”
And boy, did it ever – especially with center Jordan Staal getting a game misconduct with 4:33 remaining in the second, paving the way for Jeffrey to log a career-high 19:26 of ice time.
Jeffrey scored the game-deciding shootout goal in the seventh round and was the only skater of both teams to find the back of the net.
Not only that, but Jeffrey scored the Penguins’ first goal just 10 seconds into a penalty assessed to the Rangers’ Kris Newbury. He had drifted down to the point and received a bullet of a pass from Chris Kunitz that he quickly one-timed, deflecting off Dan Girardi’s stick past a stunned Henrik Lundqvist.
He then started the play that led to the Penguins’ third goal when he cleanly won the faceoff in the Rangers zone.
Jeffrey finished the game with goals in both regulation and the shootout, two shots and two hits en route to earning ‘First Star’ honors.
The Penguins had fallen to an early 2-0 deficit at Madison Square Garden, as the Rangers tallied once in the first period and again in the opening minutes of the second to take the lead.
But Pittsburgh refused to roll over, as they stormed back to tie the game at 2-2 with goals from Dustin Jeffrey and Michael Rupp.
Then with 5:48 remaining in the middle frame, Jeffrey cleanly won a faceoff back to defenseman Brooks Orpik, who swiftly dished it over to Zbynek Michalek. Chris Kunitz then deftly deflected Michalek’s blast past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, completing the Penguins’ furious three-goal rally within a span of 9:22 that gave them a 3-2 lead.
Although the Rangers later tied the game at 3-3, Kunitz's goal gave the Penguins some breathing room, allowing them to hold on through overtime and eventually win the ensuing shootout.
NEW YORK (AP) - Dustin Jeffrey scored one of Pittsburgh's three second-period goals and then had the only one in a seven-round shootout to lift the injury-depleted Penguins to a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves through overtime and then stopped all seven attempts against him in the shootout to outduel fellow All-Star goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who turned aside 23 shots.
Jeffrey scored in the top half of the seventh round, snapping a shot past Lundqvist. Fleury then denied Marian Gaborik to give the Penguins their fifth straight win at Madison Square Garden.
- After losing Mark Letestu during Tuesday’s morning skate to a lower-body injury, Arron Asham left the game just minutes into the middle frame with an upper-body injury and did not return. Then with 5:51 left in that same period, Chris Conner went to the dressing room after blocking a heavy Marc Staal blast from the point, but returned for the final frame.
- After the Rangers’ Brandon Prust laid a heavy hit on an unsuspecting Tyler Kennedy, Jordan Staal came to the defense of his linemate and road roommate. landing a punch on Prust’s face that sent him to the ice. Staal was assessed a match penalty with 4:33 remaining in the second that gave the Rangers a five-minute power play. It sent the Penguins forward to the dressing room for the remainder of the game for what the refs determined was intent to injure Prust.
- Staal’s match penalty meant the Penguins finished Tuesday’s tilt without their top four centers, as Letestu, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were all out as well.
- Tuesday marked the Penguins’ fourth-consecutive game without both Crosby and Malkin in the lineup. With tonight’s win, the Penguins have now won three straight with their superstars sidelined for an overall record of 3-1, as they also garnered victories over Carolina on Jan. 22 and the New York Islanders on Jan. 25. Crosby has been on the shelf since Jan. 6 (10 games) with a concussion, while Malkin has missed the last four contests with a sinus infection.
#1. Dustin Jeffrey
Center - 15
Only SO goal
1 regulation goal
#2. Ryan Callahan
Right wing - 24
#3. Chris Kunitz
Left wing - 14
Author: Michelle Crechiolo