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Aftermath: Rangers 3, Penguins 2 SO

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins blew a 2-0 third period lead to lose, 3-2, in a shootout to the New York Rangers on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. Nikolai Zherdev tied the game with 8.1 seconds left in regulation to force an overtime and eventual shootout. The Rangers won the shootout, 1-0, getting the only goal from Fredrik Sjostrom. Former Penguin Markus Naslund notched the other Rangers goal at 5:09 of the third on a power play. Pittsburgh goal scorers were defenseman Darryl Sydor, his first goal since Dec. 27, 2007, and Sidney Crosby. Marc-Andre Fleury made 42 saves in the losing effort.

               Brooks Orpik says hello to Ryan Callahan (photo by Getty)
What Worked: Penalty Kill on 5-on-3
Late in the second period the Penguins killed two full minutes of a 5-on-3 disadvantage. The units blocked shots, got their sticks in lanes and when shots did get through, Fleury was there to make the save. The Rangers registered eight shots on goal and no score. Jordan Staal took a shot off the leg and was hobbled during the early part of the kill but fought through it.

What Didn't Work: Final 30 Seconds of Regulation
First, Crosby missed an opportunity to seal the victory when his backhander trickled wide of the net. Then the Rangers transitioned the other way. Zherdev took the puck in the neutral zone and then missiled a shot into the net to tie the game with 8.1 seconds left.
Of all the 42 saves that Fleury made in the game, it’s the one miss that will haunt him in this game. He would love to have another chance on Zherdev’s shot with 8.1 seconds left in regulation. That being said, if it weren’t for Fleury’s stellar play in the game’s previous 59:50, then Pittsburgh might not have been in position to get the win. His confidence grows with every start. Fleury was playing aggressive in net, challenging shooters at the top of his crease. He made a ton of saves – as usual – and has been their best player in the season’s opening month.
Pittsburgh’s first goal came at the end of a power-play opportunity. Tyler Kennedy sent a pass to Sydor at the left point as the man advantage expired. Sydor stepped into a blast that pinballed off of two Rangers before ricocheting into the net. Though Jordan Staal wasn’t credited with an assist on the play, he deserves an honorary assist for getting in front of the net to screen Henrik Lundqvist. Sydor’s shot initially hit Michal Rozsival, who was covering Staal at the top of the crease, and then off of Dmitri Kalinin and into the cage three seconds after the power play ended.

The Penguins first goal occurred on their first shot of the game.

Pittsburgh’s second goal was assisted by the Madison Square Garden glass. Dupuis had the puck along the boards and threw the puck along the glass to get it behind the net. However, it deflected off of a piece of glass and deflected in front of the Rangers goal. Malkin couldn’t get possession in the slot. Kalinin cleared the puck right onto the stick of Alex Goligoski, who sent a wrist shot at Lundqvist. The puck sneaked through the pads of the Rangers goaltender and died in the paint. Crosby reached around Lundqvist and dunked the puck into the net for a 2-0 Pittsburgh lead.

The sequence that led to Pittsburgh’s second goal of the game was a result of great hustle and awareness. The Penguins skated hard to keep the puck in the New York zone while changing their forwards to get fresh attackers against a fatigued Rangers squad. Kennedy, Max Talbot and Pascal Dupuis were on the ice in their own zone when Mark Eaton sent the puck to the side boards to Kennedy. He then threw the puck to a streaking Dupuis while Talbot swapped with Crosby during the rush. Dupuis got by Rozsival but was pushed off the puck by Kalinin. Kris Letang, trailing behind Dupuis, picked up the fumbled puck and took a backhanded shot on goal. The rebound caromed to Kennedy, who dumped it and raced to the bench to get Malkin on the ice. With the fresh skaters, Pittsburgh had the Rangers skating in circles until Crosby knocked in the goal.

Brooks Orpik (slashing) and Mike Zigomanis (interference) both took penalties just 37 seconds after Pittsburgh took a 2-0 lead. The Rangers registered eight shots on a full two-minute 5-on-3 advantage. The Penguins managed to kill the disadvantage with two of their best penalty killers in the box. Everyone knows that a team’s best penalty killer is the goaltender. But I’m going to say that Pittsburgh’s second best penalty killer is Rob Scuderi. He broke up three cross-ice passes in front of the net with his stick and created a turnover with his long reach. In previous penalty kills this season, Scuderi even played goaltender by making three saves when Fleury was caught out of position. Scuderi is playing like the best penalty killer in the league.

Scuderi may quietly be developing into the Penguins best defenseman as well. He logged the most ice time in the game with 26:44. Now that he’s paired with Orpik, he is silencing opponent’s top lines.

Orpik had a game-high six hits. He’s been a physical presence in the Penguins zone. Orpik’s leading the entire NHL with 41 hits through nine games.

Therrien is occasionally flipping Dupuis and Miroslav Satan. Satan took a few shifts with Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Dupuis, likewise, skated with Kennedy and Talbot. The latter trio enabled the Penguins to secure their second goal of the game.

The Penguins have done a good job all game of collapsing in front of the net. The Rangers had a few odd-man rushes but Pittsburgh managed to keep the play on the perimeter.

Naslund’s goal came right on top of the Pittsburgh crease. Mark Eaton had the body on him but he tried to block Scott Gomez’s pass. Gomez got the puck past Eaton’s stick and Naslund had an easy tap-in.

Pittsburgh was outshot in the third period, 18-2. They didn’t show enough urgency with a one-goal lead, opting to dump and backpedal on defense. The Rangers finished the game with 44 shots, however, that total would have been 59 if it weren’t for the 15 blocked shots the Penguins registered.

Crosby just missed the empty net when he sent a backhand shot into the Rangers zone. New York transitioned quickly. Zherdev sneaked past Malkin and picked up the puck in the neutral zone. Eaton forced him wide and Zherdev blistered a shot from the right faceoff circle. Fleury dropped down into the butterfly stance and the puck cleared over his left shoulder. The puck may have been deflected off of Eaton’s stick but it was difficult to decipher on the replay.

Therrien sent out some interesting pairings for the four-on-four overtime period. Crosby opened the overtime with Ruslan Fedotenko while Malkin skated alongside Staal.

Crosby nearly won the game for Pittsburgh in overtime with a beautiful backhand pass. While along the half-boards he sent a pass with some velocity on it to Fedotenko, who went to the front of the net. Lundqvist made a sliding pad save on the play to deny the Penguins the winning goal.

Lundqvist made two more big saves on the same shift. First he stopped Crosby pointblank on a backhander with his pads. Then he gloved a re-directed Scuderi one-timer.

Therrien used the same three shooters in the shootout as he did in Boston: Letang, Petr Sykora and Crosby. Lundqvist denied all three of them. Letang and Crosby tried to score on their backhands and Sykora tried to go high, glove side.

The Rangers used: Zherdev, Nigel Dawes and Fredrik Sjostrom. Both Zherdev and Dawes went low, blocker side on Fleury and were rejected. Sjostrom used a low, backhand shot that slid under the left pad of Fleury for the only goal in the shootout.
> Pittsburgh dropped to 5-2-2 on the season, 2-0-1 on the road.

> The Penguins earned seven of a possible eight points in the last four games. Pittsburgh has a 3-0-1 record over that stretch.

> Pittsburgh participated in a shootout in consecutive road games.

> Sydor opened the scoring at 9:04 of the first period to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead. Crosby extended the lead to 2-0 when he netted a loose puck in the crease behind Lundqvist. Naslund got New York on the board with a power-play goal at 5:09 of the third period. Zherdev tied the game with a wrist shot with 8.1 seconds left in regulation.

> The Penguins three shooters: Letang (save), Sykora (save) and Crosby (save). The Rangers three shooters: Zherdev (save), Dawes (save) and Sjostrom (score).

> Malkin recorded an assist in the game. He’s recorded a point in eight of Pittsburgh’s nine games this season. Malkin’s compiled 11 points (2G-9A) in the last five games.

> Malkin is tied in the NHL scoring race with 14 points this season on three goals and 11 assists.

> Crosby notched a goal in the game. He has 10 points (3G-7A) in the last four games.

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 42 saves in the game. His 267 saves this season are most by a goalie in the NHL.

> Darryl Sydor scored his first goal this season in the first period. The last time he scored was on Dec. 27, 2007, against Washington. It’s his first goal in 51 games.
1.Henrik Lundqvist, NYR
2. Fredrik Sjostrom, NYR
3. Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT
"In this league, when you give time and space, good players
will make plays."
Head coach Michel Therrien told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Recap (AP)
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