The Pens beat the Rangers at their own game today, playing a tight defensive style of hockey. They were able to get the key power play goal that gave them the lead, and they never relinquished it. Great game and great win.
The first was a penalty parade. Nearly half of the period was spent in odd man situations. The Rangers had more of the time on the power play, but the Pens peppered Lundqvist during their allotted minutes.
It was a little bit concerning that they got so many chances on Lundy but couldn't get one past him.
The Rangers, for their part, had a few good chances but couldn't convert, either.
They Blueshirts are, however, resorting to some nonsense.
Shanahan was standing firmly in the blue paint of Fleury's crease while the Rangers were on the power play. If I'm Fleury, and the refs won't get him to move, I start taking shots to the back of the legs with my stick.
NBC had a good shot of Avery skating up to Crosby near the end of the period and slashing him across the wrists. No way to describe that except dirty. Sid was nowhere near the puck and wasn't engaged with Avery. Dirty play by a dirty player. What could you possibly be trying to do there except injure Crosby?
It was a tight game going into the second.
Second verse, same as the first. Another period where much of the offense was generated from the special teams. This time, however, there was only one penalty per side, so there was a lot less offense.
The Pens got the first power play chance and they were all over Lundqvist with the first unit. They had changed their strategy a bit, putting two players in front of King Henry. This probably left them more susceptible to the short-handed break, but they managed to keep control of the puck.
Malone and Hossa both missed what were essentially tap-in opportunities, but on the second unit, Staal took a pass from Malkin on his backhand right in front of Lundy. He went to the forehand and roofed it. Great play and great shot. HUGE goal for the Pens as they had been unable to solve Lundqvist to that point. 1-0 Pens.
The Rangers got their power play chance not long afterwards, and while they were able to create some havoc in front of Flower, they couldn't really generate any great scoring chances. That says more about the Pens short-handed coverage than it does about the Rangers offense. The PK was playing really well.
It was a one goal game going to the third period. You probably needed the antacid...
The Pens earned two early power plays in the third period. One was a result of Girardi knocking the puck out of play and the other was a smart slash by Betts to take away a great scoring chances from LTK (Little Tyler Kennedy - we miss you, Steigy!)
The Pens, while they continued to generate pressure, couldn't cash in on either chance. You'd like to see them be able to go for the jugular and cash in on one of those power plays, but it was not to be.
There was a bunch of back and forth play until late in the third.
That's when Sykora gets called for high-sticking - good call by the zebras. It was just bad luck - the stick was up high because it had been lifted.
On the ensuing power play, the Pens get a huge break when the ref blows the whistle just before it comes out behind Marc-Andre. I wonder how much whining we'll hear from our New York brethren over that one...
The Rangers got another late power play when the USS Gill plastered Avery in front of Fleury. Two minutes for crosschecking. Also a good call, also unfortunate.
The Rangers couldn't do much with it, however, so with about a minute left, they pulled King Henry. You'd really like to have the USS Gill on the ice for that situation, but he was still docked in the penalty box.
The Rangers made some noise, but no real great scoring chance, and Adam Hall's clearing attempt off of the boards took a lucky roll right into the empty net. 2-0 Pens.
In the last 15 seconds, Avery took a shot at Flower, slashing him in the pads. It was a garbage move, and Marc-Andre didn't take it easily. He repeated his patented move, the "Nutcracker" by jabbing Avery right between the legs from behind. Great move by Fleury, as Avery went nuts (poor baby) and came after Fleury. That was a mistake, as both Laraque and Gill were on the ice for just such a situation. Had there been no linesman there, there may have been no more Sean Avery.
As it was, however, this will certainly make things more interesting for Game 3.
Next up: Game 3 is on Tuesday night at MSG. Should be huge.