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Insider Only Penguins – Rangers What We Learned

PENGUINS – RANGERS THOUGHTS

All-time when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin each score in the same game, the Penguins win 92% (59-4-1) of the time.

The winning trend of when Malkin,Crosby score in the same game continued Thursday night.

Crosby netted his 26th goal of the season and Malkin added a goal, two assists as Penguins got a much needed 4-1 win over the New York Rangers. It was the first time Crosby, Malkin scored in the same game vs the Rangers since Oct 2, 2009, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Pittsburgh pulled within six points of the Rangers for second place and had a good night in the standings as the Flyers fell five points behind Pittsburgh with a loss to the Oilers.

All of the buzz after the game was on Henrik Lundqvist’s meltdown in the second period. With the game scoreless in the second period Lundqvist was ran into by his teammate Ryan McDonagh and tried to get the refs attention and as the play came back into the Rangers zone, Lundqvist threw the net off the boards.

Not long afterwards the Penguins would score three goals in 99 seconds late in the second period to take a commanding 3-1 lead after forty minutes. Pittsburgh leads the NHL with 74 second period goals.

Lundqvist did not return for the third period.

Marc Andre Fleury afterwards called Lundqvist’s antics “baby stuff”, per Tim Benz.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said Lundqvist was dealing with neck spasms as the reason for removing him from the game. “His neck was spasming up,” Vigneault said. “Rammer [trainer Jim Ramsay] thought that the best thing was to keep him off and work on him during the third period, which they did. So I don’t think it’s anything serious. But they wanted to go on the safe side, so we took him out.”

Players in the Rangers room said they had never seen Lundqvist so furious. Watching the replay of Lundqvist getting ran into by McDonagh, it’s surprising the Rangers didn’t take more caution in evaluating him immediately and removing him from the game in the second period. That was a hard impact.

Whether the Penguins put up three goals on an injured Henrik Lundqvist or not shouldn’t take anything away from a nice win.

What we saw from the Penguins tonight was similar to their only win vs the Rangers last post-season. Game 2 of the playoffs last spring showed a blueprint of what needs to happen for the Penguins to beat the Rangers. One of the stars taking over and getting a couple goals in bunches.

That’s going to have to be how the Penguins beat the Rangers or Capitals in a playoff series were the teams to meet. You saw in the first period where both teams played a tight checking game than when the game started to open up a bit in the second period, Pittsburgh came out of the period with a 3-1 advantage. Getting the goals in bunches is the key.

Maybe more importantly, the biggest takeaway for the Penguins was their ability defend the front of the net. A weakness for this Penguins blueline is the net-front area but the Penguins were exceptional at keeping the Rangers to the outside, something of a rare occurrence when the two rivals meet.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault noted after the game of how the Rangers were not able to get to the hard areas.

“Traffic, it’s two things, it’s forwards going into that hard area to make things happen and the defense getting shots through. Yes, they (Penguins) were good defensively and checked well but we needed to execute better with the puck and we needed to go into those harder areas and we didn’t,” Vigneault said.

The Rangers in the first period attacked the Penguins like they often do. Cross-ice dump-ins and Pittsburgh was very effective by having short support down low in the defensive zone. Pittsburgh also seemed to have the centers working lower in the defensive zone than they normally have under Sullivan.

There’s no question this was a strategic move by Sullivan and his staff. When the Rangers would win a puck battle off the forecheck, the immediate center support Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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