What we’re starting to see is a trend of what type of teams the Penguins matchup well against and don’t.
For whatever reason, the Penguins seem to just play a complete team defensive game against the Rangers and they did so tonight, defeating New York 3-0, behind a 28 save shutout from Tomas Vokoun.
Vokoun improving to 2-1-0 on the season, showed strong rebound control for the third straight start and his ability to slow down the play by covering up pucks, halted momentum the Rangers would gain in the offensive zone. Vokoun is now 8-2-1 in his last 11 starts vs the Rangers.
One area the Penguins defended very well was the neutral zone as they clogged things up and defending the neutral zone better has been an area of focus for the coaching staff since the start of camp and we’ve seen improvement in that area this season.
The Rangers not blessed with speed upfront and lack great puck movers on the backend, are a team Pittsburgh can exploit with their speed and push the play the other way. Like the game on Jan 20, we saw it again tonight and Pittsburgh struck just a 1:24 into the game when Evgeni Malkin (2) one timered a beautiful feed from Simon Despres past Henrik Lundqvist to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. Despres put the puck in a perfect spot for Malkin.
The Penguins zone time and puck possession game was superior to the Rangers but the Rangers kept hanging around as the Penguins went 0 for 4 on the power play through two periods and Sidney Crosby was stopped on a breakaway with 48 seconds left in the second period as the Penguins went to the intermission up just 1-0.
That big goal to push their lead to 2-0 would come seconds into the third period on a power play when James Neal (5) redirected a Sidney Crosby pass past Lundqvist 28 seconds into the period, giving the Penguins their first power play goal in 17 opportunities.
A Simon Despres (1) breakaway goal at 10:23 of the third period pretty much iced it for the Penguins.
Sidney Crosby extended his points streak to 16 games vs the Rangers……Simon Despres collected his first multi-point game of his career……The Penguins went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill……The Penguins went 1 of 6 on the power play…..Paul Martin logged a team-high 26:23 of ice time…..The Penguins are 9-2 in their last 11 games at MSG.