PITTSBURGH 4 – NEW YORK 3 (SO)
A 4-3 shootout win over the New York Rangers has the Penguins atop the Eastern Conference with 51 points and winners in 10 of their last 11 games.
“To go through what we’re going through and still find ways to win, I think it says a lot,” Sidney Crosby said. “That’s not easy and It’s really a combined effort from everyone to find a way. It seems like it’s someone different who steps up every night.”
The Penguins again got production from their big guns, getting a power play goal from Chris Kunitz (18) and then Sidney Crosby set Pascal Dupuis up in front for a third period goal to put the Penguins up 2-1. Crosby had two assists on the night to give him a league leading 49 points at the 36 game mark.
Crosby talked about somebody stepping up every night and the key player stepping up Wednesday night was Brandon Sutter. Leading 2-1, Sutter gave the Penguins a two goal lead in the third, scoring a beautiful individual goal, going outside then inside around Michael Del Zotto and beating Henrik Lundqvist with a backhand goal to give the Penguins a commanding 3-1 lead.
“Any time you get a 1-on-1, especially 4-on-4, you want to try to make a play on it,” Sutter said of the goal. “I just tried to drive wide to get the D to think I was going to go wide or shoot.”
Sutter would then net the game winning goal in the shootout to end a back and fourth goaltending battle in the shootout between Marc Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist.
While Sutter’s defensive play is very important to the Penguins success, but to get where the Penguins want to go (A Stanley Cup), scoring from the third and fourth line is going to be critical come playoff time and some of the weight will fall on Sutter becoming a more consistent offensive player. He has the offensively ability to be a difference maker as we saw last night.
— Marc Andre Fleury’s excellent athleticism has made him an outstanding goaltender on breakaways and that obviously transfer overs to shootouts. The Penguins have won the most shootouts in NHL history and Fleury has the best save percentage among goaltenders in shootouts and is 13-1 in his last 14 shootouts.
My focus on Fleury last night, though, is in the third period. The Penguins were in complete control of the game and he gives up a poor goal to Mats Zuccarello off what should have been a routine save on a John Moore shot and it’s the type of goal that just makes you cringe because we’ve seen this story before. New York gets back into the game and sends it to overtime.
— The Penguins young blueliners had some mixups, mostly in their decision making which is understandable going up against NHL speed but there was also a lot to like. Brian Dumoulin had some iffy moments defensively but we got a glimpse of his two-way ability. He made some great outlet passes, including one that sent Sidney Crosby on a breakaway.
Philip Samuelsson has fit the scouting report. Knows what he does well and positionally is very good defensively. He’s come a real long way.