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Aftermath: Penguins 5, Rangers 2

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins

Photo Gallery: Pens 5, Rangers 2
Video: Game Highlights   Blog: Pens vs. Rangers Game Blog
Marc-Andre Fleury was instrumental in the Penguins holding off a furious early-minute barrage of shots by New York as the Rangers tried to atone for their performance in an 8-3 loss to the Penguins on Saturday night. Once the Penguins withstood the Rangers early rush they were able to take the game over.

The Penguins used a formula which has worked so well for them in 2009-10 to soundly defeat the Rangers over the final 40 minutes. Sidney Crosby continued his all-world play with two more goals and a helper. Grinder Mike Rupp came through with his first career hat trick, including the game-winning goal at 11:14 of the final frame as the Penguins’ role players continue to score when the team needs them the most. Finally, Fleury was strong between the pipes in making 29 saves in tying for the NHL lead with 16 wins.
NEW YORK (AP) – Mike Rupp shook off a leg injury in the third period, snapped a tie with his second goal of the night, and then completed his first NHL hat trick to help the Pittsburgh Penguins break a long losing streak at Madison Square Garden and sweep a home-and-home series from the New York Rangers with a 5-2 victory on Monday night.

Rupp's first goal gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead in the second period and his second made it 3-2 with 8:46 remaining. Rupp left the ice for the dressing room about 5 1/2 minutes earlier after he banged his left leg against the boards after being hit from behind by Dan Girardi.

Mike Rupp recorded his first career hat trick against the Rangers
(photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Strong Finish
Just as they had in their 8-3 win over New York on Saturday, the Penguins dominated the third period, registering all three of the goals scored in the final frame. Bylsma mentions at least a couple times a week how he expects his team to play their best hockey in the third, and with seven third-period goals in their past two games the Penguins are dominating the play when it matters most.

What Could Have Gone Better: Containing Marian Gaborik
Pittsburgh has won all three games between the division rivals thus far, but one thing they haven’t been able to do is find a way to stop Marian Gaborik. The high-flying Slovak scored both New York goals on Monday night, giving him three goals and two assists against the Penguins.
As other teams throw money at big-ticket free agents, signings such as Mike Rupp will continue to make Ray Shero the best GM in the NHL. Rupp has done it all for the Penguins through the first third of the season, playing an abrasive game down low, providing a net-front presence and scoring key goals – much like he did against the Rangers.

Not only did Rupp score the game-winning goal at 11:14 of the third period, the second-consecutive Monday he has scored a clutch goal in the third period, but he finished off a career night with his first career hat trick when he shot the puck from his own blue line into the empty net with 1:40 left in the game. Rupp tied for the team lead with five shots on goal and his four hits were second most (tied).
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped the point shot from Marc Staal but Vinny Prospal retrieved the loose puck at the side of the cage and hit Marian Gaborik in front of the net. Gaborik’s first shot was stopped by Fleury but the rebound landed in the back of the net. New York 1, Pittsburgh 0.

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins answered Gaborik’s tally 10 seconds later. Crosby won the ensuing faceoff to Sergei Gonchar, who passed ahead to Bill Guerin at the Rangers’ blue line. Guerin left a one-touch pass for Crosby, who skated in and threw a backhander behind Henrik Lundqvist. Pittsburgh 1, New York 1.

Jordan Staal went forward with a faceoff and fired a shot stopped in front by Lundqvist but Mike Rupp was there at the side of the crease to throw a backhander behind the New York netminder to give Pittsburgh their first lead of the night. Pittsburgh 2, New York 1.

Gaborik continued to be the Rangers main source of offense against the Penguins in 2009-10 when he went hard to the front of the net and swiped a loose puck into the net as the point shot hit traffic on the way through and landed on Gaborik’s stick. Pittsburgh 2, New York 2.

Rupp gave Pittsburgh the lead back for good in the third period when he picked up a loose puck and skated down the left side of the Rangers zone before firing a snap shot over the glove hand of Lundqvist for his first two-goal game as a Penguin. Pittsburgh 3, New York 2.

Late in the final frame Crosby, with help from Guerin, won the puck back to Martin Skoula at the left point. Skoula set up Mark Eaton for a one-timer, which was deflected by Crosby in the slot on the way through to get past Lundqvist. Pittsburgh 4, New York 2.

With the net empty at the other end Crosby gets the puck to Rupp at the Penguins blue line and Rupp fires the puck the length of the ice into the open cage for the first hat trick of his career. Pittsburgh 5, New York 2.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik, the longest tenured member of the team, played in his 400th career game against the Rangers. Orpik finished plus-1 with a team-leading (tied) five hits in 20:06 of ice time.

Defenseman Jay McKee returned to the lineup for the first time since missing six games with an infected finger. McKee’s partner for most of the season, Alex Goligoski, stayed back home in Pittsburgh, missing his seventh game of the season after originally returning from injury Saturday against New York. McKee teamed up with Kris Letang after beginning the contest with Martin Skoula.

Marc-Andre Fleury was huge for the Penguins in the opening minutes as the Rangers racked up the first handful of shots in the first period. Included in Fleury’s sequence of clutch saves was a stop on a deflected shot from the stick of Marc Staal, not one but two saves on Rangers captain Chris Drury and a stop with his chest protector on a long-range slap shot from Ryan Callahan.
Pittsburgh improved to 19-9 on the season with a 10-5 mark away from Mellon Arena.

> Scoring Summary:
NYR, M. Gaborik (20), 3:12 2nd period: Rangers 1, Penguins 0
PIT, S. Crosby (16), 3:23 2nd period: Penguins 1, Rangers 1
PIT, M. Rupp (6), 7:33 2nd period: Penguins 2, Rangers 1
NYR, M. Gaborik PP (21), 18:42 2nd period: Penguins 2, Rangers 2
PIT, M. Rupp (7), 11:14 3rd period: Penguins 3, Rangers 2
PIT, S. Crosby (17), 15:51 3rd period: Penguins 4, Rangers 2
PIT, M. Rupp (8), 18:20 3rd period: Penguins 5, Rangers 2

> After sweeping a home-and-home series with the Rangers and improving to 3-0 against them in 2009-10, the Penguins now head home for a three-game homestand beginning Thursday night when the Colorado Avalanche invade Mellon Arena. Pittsburgh will play five of their next six contests at home.

> Pittsburgh is now 36-12-4 in the regular season under head coach Dan Bylsma. They have a record of 18-7-3 away from Mellon Arena.

> Monday was Bylsma’s first trip to Madison Square Garden as a head coach. Bylsma is a perfect 4-0 all-time against New York after winning his first three games against the Rangers at Mellon Arena.

> The Penguins’ 5-2 victory over the Rangers was their first regular-season victory at Madison Square Garden since a 4-3 shootout victory on March 1, 2007.

> Sidney Crosby continues to climb the statistical ladder following his two-goal, one-assist performance against New York. With 33 points Crosby is tied for third place in the scoring race, just four points behind co-leaders Marian Gaborik of the Rangers and Joe Thornton of San Jose, who each have 37. Crosby’s 17 goals tie him for fourth place, four behind league-leader Gaborik.

> Crosby’s assist on Mike Rupp’s hat trick goal was the 281st of his career, moving him out of a tie with Ron Schock into sole possession of ninth place on the team’s all-time assists list. Crosby is also one goal shy of 150 for his career, which would tie him with Rob Brown for 12th place in team history.

> Evgeni Malkin saw his season-high six-game scoring streak come to a close against New York. During the streak Malkin had four goals and four assists. For the season Malkin ranks second on the team with 25 points (8G-17A).

> Mike Rupp’s hat trick was the first of his career and it was his first multiple-goal performance since scoring twice against the Penguins on Jan. 29, 2008 when he played for the New Jersey Devils.

> Back-to-back hat tricks from Crosby and Rupp marked the first time the Penguins had players record back-to-back hat tricks since Alexei Kovalev tallied three times on Nov. 13, 2001 against the Devils and followed that up with three more goals the next night against the New York Islanders.

> Sergei Gonchar has quietly amassed a season-high four-game scoring streak after helping to set up Crosby’s first goal. Gonchar has five points (1G-4A) his past four games.

> Jordan Staal continues to find the scoreheet for the Penguins with points in seven of the last nine games. He has two goals and eight assists during that stretch.

> Martin Skoula now has points in five of his past eight contests after assisting on Crosby’s goal in the third period. In those eight games Skoula has three goals and three assists.
1. M. Rupp
2. M. Gaborik
3.S. Crosby
"It feels good that it comes in a win.
Nothing is worse than when a guy
has an opportunity to get a hat
trick and the team loses."
- Mike Rupp


Author: Jason Seidling

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