Sunday, March 30, 2008

Penguins 3, Rangers 1

Great win for the Pens today. They're in first place in the division by six points and in first place in the conference by one. They can earn the top spot in both entirely through their own effort with just three games remaining in the season.

First period:

The Pens got into penalty trouble early when Sean Avery was hooked by Hal Gill. The Pens almost killed off the penalty, but a low shot by Jagr couldn't be contained by Fleury. Dubinsky was all alone to the left of Flower to put the rebound in. 1-0 Rangers.

The Pens started to pick up their play by hitting everything that moved. This is a great sign heading towards the playoffs. It's the kind of intensity that seemed to be missing last year.

The score was tied by Hossa. Crosby took the puck in wide and threw it to the front of the net. It deflected off of the skate of Dupuis back to Hossa in the high slot. Marian didn't hesitate for a second and blasted the puck over Lundqvist who had gone down. 1-1 tie.

The Pens had several power play chances, and finally made one pay off by scoring a five on three goal. Geno tried to pick the corner above the right shoulder of Lundqvust and just missed by about six inches (wide). The puck came back around and he tried the exact same shot, this time putting it right where it needed to be, in the top corner of the net. It's almost not fair to give a guy like Malkin two cracks at that. 2-1 Pens.

The period was a good one for the Pens, the early Rangers goal aside. Fleury made some nice saves and the Pens were able to establish themselves physically.

Second period:

Another period, another early penalty for the Pens. This time, I have no idea what Wes McCauley saw, but Hossa never hooked the guy. Fortunately, the Pens killed this one off.

Malkin was stepped on by Brandon Dubinsky. He left with a facial laceration.

After Malkin left, Sid was taking shots at the Rangers left and right. He really picked up the intensity. This is the biggest thing that the Pens were missing without him in the lineup. His presence guarantees that the Pens won't back down... ever.

No goal scoring in the second, despite eight minutes of power play time (four per team)

Third period:

Malkin returned to the ice with 10 stitches, and Dubinsky came over and basically said "sorry 'bout that". Classy move by Dubinsky. Maybe the Rangers aren't evil... what am I talking about? Of course they are! I'm willing to put them a step above the Flyers, however.

Play picked back up a bit in the third, but it was mostly the Rangers bringing the play to the Penguins. Fortunately, they fell into the trap of getting too cute with the puck and didn't manage to get many shots towards Fleury. They really didn't have many good scoring chances for the period.

Things stayed to the status quo until there was just over one minute remaining.

Staal won an offensive zone faceoff (HUGE faceoff win!), which kept the puck in the Rangers zone. Eventually, Scuderi shot the puck high from the right point. Lundqvist tried to catch it and start moving towards the bench to get off of the ice. Trouble was, he forgot to take the puck. There was a scrum in front of Henrik, which ended with Talbot finding the puck sitting right next to Lundqvist's leg and deposting it into the net. 3-1 Penguins.

The faceoff win by Staal cannot be emphasized enough. The Pens haven't been a good faceoff team, but today they were 30-25, with strong games by Sid and Jordan in that regard.

The Rangers made sure the game wasn't in question when Paul Mara took a stupid penalty with 30 seconds left. Game over.

  • Fleury stopped the pucks he was expected to stop. Good work by the Flower.
  • Gonchar, with over 26 minutes of ice time, was huge on the blue line.
  • I don't mind Whitney on the fourth line wing. It gives the Pens some flexibility with the power play. That said, Jeff Taffe should be back there under normal circumstances.
  • Malone, Malkin, Hossa and Crosby all played more than 20 mintues. This was inflated by the large amount of power play time, but that's still a lot of minutes.
Next up: A rematch with the Rangers tomorrow at MSG. It'll be a tough game. Preview up later tonight.

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