The Pittsburgh Penguins' special teams were exactly that Saturday night.
A night after going 0-for-6 on the power play and allowing two PP goals to Buffalo, the Penguins reversed their fortune against the Rangers. Pittsburgh tallied a pair of power-play goals and killed off all six New York man-advantages for a 3-1 win at Mellon Arena.
"Special teams were the difference in tonight's game. Last game, we were a minus-2 and tonight we were a plus-2. Coincidence? No, because we won the game," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "The power play did a great job and the guys on the penalty kill did a great job. Other than that, I really liked the effort from everyone. Everyone got involved and played really well."
Jordan Staal got the Penguins on the scoreboard with 5:18 left in the first period. On a two-man advantage, Evgeni Malkin rifled a shot on goal from the near post. It ricocheted off Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist and dropped right in front of Staal at the top of the crease. He flipped it into the net. Sergei Gonchar added an assist.
Malkin nearly gave the Penguins a 2-0 advantage 1:17 into the third period when his redirection clanged off the crossbar.
Mark Recchi did make it a 2-0 Pittsburgh lead when he tallied a power-play goal 6:56 into the period. Positioned along the far post, he banged in his own rebound on the two-man advantage. Gonchar and Sidney Crosby earned assists on the play.
"He made a nice toe save on me, but I was able to get it past him finally," Recchi said. "When you get those opportunities - 5-on-3s don't come around too often - they can be difference makers. The guys worked a lot harder at it tonight."
Brendan Shanahan slipped a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury nearly four minutes later to trim the Rangers' deficit to 2-1.
However, Recchi got it back when he one-timed Crosby's pass by Lundqvist for a 3-1 advantage with 5:05 left on the clock. Colby Armstrong picked up an assist on the play as he fed the pass to Crosby in the Rangers' zone. Crosby, skating down the near slot, sent a crisp pass across to Recchi near the far post and he swatted it into the goal.
Fleury stopped 23 of 24 shots to earn the win in goal.
The contest also marked the Penguins debut for Ronald Petrovicky. Signed as a free agent this summer, Petrovicky was sidelined until Saturday with a hip injury. He logged 7:58 of ice time.
"For his first game, I was really pleased," Therrien said. "He brought some intensity. I really like the way he played. He competed. That was a good line with Ruutu and Staal."
ICE CHIPS: John LeClair, Eric Cairns and Andre Roy were the Penguins' scratches...Darius Kasparaitis and Thomas Pock were the Rangers' scratches...The announced attendance was 16,737...Mark Recchi (No. 1), Sidney Crosby (No. 2) and Sergei Gonchar (No. 3) were the game's three stars.