Games this early in the season don’t seem like a big deal … but tonight’s was.
The Pittsburgh Penguins blew another lead to the Rangers and surrendered more points to the current Atlantic Division leaders. With both teams likely battling each other for the division crown all season, every head-to-head matchup is huge.
Penguins 2 – Rangers 3 F/SOT
Yes the Rangers have four games in hand over the Penguins. And yes, their lead is still just six points with that advantage.
However, each game the Pens lose to New York gives them less breathing room as the season progresses. This game WAS a big deal and is a big loss.
The game started like any Penguins fan might hope: Godard fight … lots of shots … Sid gets angry.
Crosby’s anger translated in to a ferocious forecheck that led to a goal by Mark Eaton.
Crosby stole the puck and took it on his backhand behind the Rangers’ net. As he turned the corner he began to move back up ice, but thew the puck across the ice to Eaton. Eaton easily scored and everyone at the Garden and watching on TV wondered where he came from.
Nevertheless, the Pens led by one, and took a lot of momentum in to the break. Shots were 12-6 in Pittsburgh’s favor and all was well.
Momentum began to shift, just slightly, to the Rangers in the second period.
Pittsburgh came out just as aggressive … the forecheck was outstanding all night. You can’t blame that for the loss. Especially the third line.
Jordan Staal, who led that third line, netted the second goal of the game and his eighth of the year off a shot from Rob Scuderi from the point. Staal barely got his stick on the puck, but it was enough to change the direction of the shot and fool New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to make the score 2-0.
The Penguins needed to ride the lead for a little while, which they were unable to do. About 1:30 later, the Rangers answered.
Scott Gomez was everywhere on the ice and led the comeback for New York. He fired a shot to the net that was deflected by Nikolai Zherdev and past Dany Sabourin … 2-1.
The Penguins did not play horrible by any means in the third period. However, you just had that feeling that things might slip away.
The Rangers were developing more offense than they had all game, registering 10 shots in the third period alone.
Nearing five minutes to play, the Penguins had their chance to ice the game.
Miroslav Satan had an open net to shoot at, but fired a backhand off the side of the net. Crosby couldn’t get a good angle on the rebound and the chance was snuffed.
It was a bad omen.
Less than a minute later Petr Prucha, who finally decided to let fans know he is actually playing in the NHL, registered his first goal of the year. He took the rebound of an initial shot to the right of Dany Sabourin and fired it in to basically an open net to tie the game with under six minutes to play.
From that point, you knew the Penguins hadn’t a chance.
Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were lightning quick but couldn’t create a goal. The Rangers seemed content with waiting for a shootout, which they got.
If I played on a team that was 6-1 in shootouts, I’d be content with that too.
Sabu couldn’t stop a single shot. Kris Letang gave all fans a glimmer of hope when he scored on the Pens second shot, but that hope was dashed when Fredrik Sjostrom scored the third Rangers goal to win.
- The Penguins have dropped three of a possible four points to the Rangers so far this season.
- With an 0-4-3 record in their last seven games at Madison Square Garden, the Penguins can take comfort in the fact that they have three of the remaining four games against the Rangers at home.
- Marc-Andre Fleury was listed as week-to-week as he recovers from his undisclosed injury … not the Sabourin hasn’t been doing more than expected to fill in in net.
- Both Mike Zigomanis and Tyler Kennedy left the game and did not return with undisclosed injuries.