CROSBY, SUTTER DELIVER GAME 2 WIN
(Series tied, 1-1)
The Pittsburgh Penguins got a needed split in New York with an impressive 4-3 win over the Rangers in Game 2 to even up the series at 1-1 as the series shifts to Pittsburgh and is now a best of five.
The Penguins again got the goaltending in Game 2, excellent special teams play (2 power play goals, 6-7 on PK), but a difference in Game 2 was players stepping up and the Penguins getting clutch performances.
Giving up the first goal for the second straight game, the Penguins responded with three second period goals, highlighted by Sidney Crosby scoring twice in a 4:39 span.
Unlike Game 1, Crosby found open space in the slot and in the crease area against the Rangers.
“The best players in the NHL are going to get some looks and he got some looks,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said.
Crosby’s performance was a needed and huge development but the best player on the ice was Brandon Sutter.
Sutter who moments earlier hit the post shorthanded, got the Penguins on the board with a power play goal at 10:01 of the second period.
From the second period on, Sutter had a great impact on the game.
Trailing 3-1, the Rangers had a surge early in the third period and Derrick Brassard cut the Penguins lead to 3-2 with a power play goal, 3:16 into the third period.
The Rangers kept coming and nearly tied the game at 3-3 as Marc Andre Fleury failed to control a Dan Girardi shot from the point and a scramble in front had Evgeni Malkin save the day by clearing the puck away that was inches from the goal line with 11:40 left in the third period.
That puck goes in and we’re likely talking today about the Penguins being down 2-0.
What the Penguins showed in the last month of the regular season is they didn’t know how to win. They flipped that script for one night.
Moments after the Rangers nearly tied the game, the Penguins headed to the power play and the second power play unit would strike again for their second power play goal of the game.
Brandon Sutter made a great individual play in making a hard wraparound and Chris Kunitz buried the rebound for just his third goal in his last 35 games as the Penguins took a commanding 4-2 lead with 10:19 remaining.
The Penguins all night got clutch performances from the likes of Crosby, Sutter, Kunitz and others.
Kunitz had a goal, two assists in the win and it was his first three point night in 32 games.
Holding a two goal lead the Penguins commitment to defense is what might have been most impressive.
Evgeni Malkin was a non-factor offensively again and trying to setup Sidney Crosby for a hat trick with an empty net was inexcusable, but Malkin made two game changing defensive plays in the third in saving the puck from going in and then his backcheck on Marty St. Louis in the slot with around six minutes left in the game was a huge play as St. Louis had a great scoring chance to get the Rangers within one.
The Penguins played with fire with undisciplined play once again, notably careless stick penalties, a very bad trend that’s going to haunt them at somepoint in this series, but they put together a gutsy performance and wanted the win more than the Rangers who failed to match the Penguins urgency.