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Aftermath: Rangers 4, Penguins 0

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
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Every game between the Penguins and Rangers is low scoring and tight checking. In these matchups, special teams becomes even more important. The Penguins special teams let them down again and it cost them the game.

New York scored two power-play goals in a game for the first time in 19 contests. Pittsburgh had chances to get back in the game - or even take a lead - with eight power-play chances. However, the Penguins came up with a big zero.

The Penguins are in their worst slump since 2006. The team fell for the fifth straight time and was shutout for the second time this season. They played well five-on-five but couldn’t capitalize on their chances. Pittsburgh needs to get its special teams back on track or else it won’t be able to climb out of this abyss.
(AP) - Henrik Lundqvist became the fifth NHL goalie to start a career with four 20-win seasons, and the New York Rangers turned their struggling power play into a plus in a 4-0 victory over the slumping Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night.

Lundqvist (20-11-3) made 27 saves for his first shutout of the season and 18th overall. He is the fourth Rangers goalie to post four consecutive 20-win seasons.

The Rangers, who were 1-for-17 with the man advantage during a 1-3-1 slide, got power-play goals from Nigel Dawes and defenseman Paul Mara and jumped over idle New Jersey and Philadelphia to regain first place in the Atlantic Division, a position they held all season until last weekend.

Matt Cooke introduces Dmitri Kalinin to the boards (photo by Getty)
What Worked: Team Camaraderie
The Rangers Colton Orr roughed up Sidney Crosby in the previous meeting between the two teams. This time he sparred with Brooks Orpik and even gave the Penguins defenseman a stick/punch to the face. Godard stepped up for Pittsburgh by fighting Orr. Orr landed a number of shots early, but he was hitting the back of Godard’s helmet. Orr landed one clean shot before Godard could get his arm free of an elbow pad. Godard also connected on a big shot before both fighters fell to the ice.

What Didn't Work: Special Teams
The Rangers had the 25th-ranked power play in the NHL with a conversion rate of only 14 percent. New York netted two man-advantage scores in the contest. It was the first time the Rangers notched two power-play scores in a game since Nov. 19 against Vancouver, a 19-game span. Pittsburgh went 0 for 8 on the power play and hasn’t scored a man-advantage goal in 32 straight opportunities. They haven’t notched a power-play goal in the last seven games, their longest drought since 2003. To make matters worse they allowed a short-handed goal.
Sidney Crosby was trying to single-handedly pull the Penguins out of their slump with his effort against the New York Rangers. Crosby had five shots in the game, including three great chances on a power play in the first period. He skated hard the entire night but didn't have enough to get the Penguins a goal. Crosby did recorded two takeaways, two hits and won 59 percent of his faceoffs while compiling over 21 minutes of ice time. 

Crosby had an inspired power-play series on the team’s first man-advantage chance. The Penguins were working on the first leg of a four-minute high-sticking double minor to Petr Prucha. He had three scoring chances and drew another penalty to create a five-on-three advantage. Crosby was stopped on a great one-timer chance by Henrik Lundqvist’s sliding pad save. Then he picked up a turnover and hit the post to Lundqvist’s left. He blew past Dmitri Kalinin to get another shot on goal and drew a penalty on Kalinin for holding.
New York got off to a quick start with a power-play goal one minute into the first period. Nigel Dawes had the puck above the near circle and tried to make a diagonal pass to the far goal line. However, his pass hit the skate of Rob Scuderi and deflected into the goal. New York 1, Pittsburgh 0.

The Rangers notched a second power-play goal late in the second period to increase their lead, 2-0. Scott Gomez won a faceoff in the Penguins zone from the far right circle. The puck came back to defenseman Paul Mara at the midpoint. Mara sent a quick shot on net that beat Marc-Andre Fleury to the short side. New York 2, Pittsburgh 0.

The Rangers connected for their third goal following some tic-tac-toe passing. Dawes gained the zone and then pulled up before dumping it around the boards. Kris Letang fell down on the play and Petr Prucha collected the puck behind the Pittsburgh net. He then set up Chris Drury for a one-timer in the slot. Drury banged home his 11th score of the season. New York 3, Pittsburgh 0.

Scott Gomez’s short-handed, empty-net goal sealed the final. Drury cleared the puck the length of the ice where Gomez, who jumped off the bench, beat the Penguins to the puck and scored his eighth goal of the year. New York 4, Pittsburgh 0.
The Penguins elevated Tyler Kennedy to the top line with Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis. Evgeni Malkin was reunited with Ruslan Fedotenko and Petr Sykora. Jordan Staal centered the third line with Matt Cooke and Maxime Talbot. The fourth line consisted of Eric Godard, Dustin Jeffrey and Miroslav Satan. The Penguins scratched defensemen Alex Goligoski and Hal Gill.

Through two periods the Penguins were outshooting and out-chancing the Rangers, even though they trailed 2-0 in the game. Pittsburgh has 20 shots to New York’s 17, and had a number of great chances to get on the board. Henrik Lundqvist has made some big saves but Pittsburgh also missed the net and hit a couple posts. The Penguins created chances but didn’t converting on those opportunities.

New York’s Colton Orr took some liberties with Crosby in the previous meeting between these two clubs. Brooks Orpik got a little pay back when he lit up Orr near the Pittsburgh blue line in the third period. Later in the period, Orr dumped the puck in the Penguins zone with Orpik backpedaling. As Orr went to swing around Orpik, he punched Orpik with the butt-end of his stick and was called for roughing.

On the ensuing power play with less than four minutes left in the game, Michel Therrien went all in and pulled goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. With the Penguins down 3-0, Therrien’s bold move was a last-ditch effort to salvage something from the game. Unfortunately, the Rangers scored an empty-net goal to put the game away.
> Pittsburgh dropped to 19-17-4 on the year, with an 11-8-2 mark on the road. The Penguins have lost a season-long five straight games.

> New York took an early 1-0 lead a minute into the first period on Nigel Dawes’ (7) power-play goal. The Rangers connected on another power-play score from Paul Mara (3) late in the second period. The Rangers extended their lead on goals from Chris Drury (11) and Scott Gomez (8) in the third.

> Evgeni Malkin played in his 200th career NHL game. Though he was scoreless against New York, he still leads the NHL in points with 60 (15G-45A). Malkin’s 45 assists are a league best.

> Sidney Crosby was held scoreless against the Rangers. He is third in the league in scoring with 50 points (15G-35A). His 35 assists are fourth most in the league.

> Petr Sykora was scoreless against New York but he has 16 points in his last 16 games (8G-8A). In his past 12 games, Sykora has six goals and six assists for 12 points.
1. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR
2. Paul Mara, NYR
3. Nigel Dawes, NYR



Author: Sam Kasan

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