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Seventh Heaven

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
NEW YORK, New York – Another day, another game, another win.


Pittsburgh pulled off its seventh-straight win with a 3-1 triumph over Atlantic Division rival New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden Monday night.

The Penguins have been rolling with an unbeaten streak of 10 games (9-0-1). The only blemish on that record was a 3-2 overtime loss to the Rangers on Nov. 15, and Pittsburgh avenged that home setback by besting the Rangers in the Big Apple.

“With the Rangers it’s always intense,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “It’s not talked about as a rivalry with us and them. They’re always intense games, and that’s expected on both sides. Those are the things that makes games interesting, and it’s part of the challenge of trying to make things happen.”

“Our guys are doing a lot of good things to help us be a good team,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We’re not perfect. We can get better. The penalty kill is a sense of that, our guys know what they’re doing when they go over the boards, they know their role, they know how we want to play. They’re buying into that, and how we want to win games. You’re seeing that in the way we’re playing, but you also see that in our team.”

All the elements of the Penguins’ streak were once again keys against the Rangers. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was genius in goal with 25 saves. The penalty kill unit extended its perfect stretch to 32 straight kills with a flawless 3-for-3 mark. And the Penguins got timely goals from throughout the lineup: Maxime Talbot, Kris Letang and Chris Conner.

“It was a big team win,” Talbot said. “It was about everyone chipping in, and working the defensive zone. It’s nice to get those kinds of wins.”

One area that the Penguins were able to exploit the Rangers was along the boards. Pittsburgh used the boards effectively on their outlet passes in the defensive zone to create offense. The Penguins’ speed helped them retrieve the pucks at full speed to generate odd-man rushes.

Thanks to those heads-up plays, the Penguins were able to capitalize for two of their three goals.

“It’s about hard work. It’s about details of the game,” Talbot said. “We did a lot of good things on the walls. That was huge for us tonight. We tried to bring it into the offensive zone and we did.”

Now, the Penguins need to find a way to keep it going.

“We’ve been able to win hockey games in different ways,” Bylsma said. “When you talk about where we got the goals and how we got the goals, you start to see that we’re not depending on the power play, or one person or certain guys. We have a lot of people contributing and the team’s playing the right way.”

“We’re focused on getting better and staying hungry,” Crosby said. “That’s the most important thing.”
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