Pittsburgh 5 – New York 2
The Pittsburgh Penguins (43-21-5,Â 91 pts) rolled to a 10th straight win, defeating the New York Rangers (44-19-7, 95 pts)
5-2 on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Matt Cooke (13, 14) scored twice, Tyler Kennedy had two assists and Sidney Crosby had an assist and plus-3 rating in his return to the lineup.
Evgeni Malkin (39), Chris Kunitz (21) and Pascal Dupuis (19) also scored for Pittsburgh.
Cooke scored a 2:54 into the game as the Matt Cooke – Sidney Crosby – Tyler Kennedy unit were effective early on together, scoring on their first shift of the game and producing a Marc Staal interference penalty on their second shift of the game.
Leading 3-2, Pittsburgh pulled away early in the third period when Chris Kunitz scored his 21st goal of the season just three minutes into the period seconds after a Rangers penalty ended, and Pascal Dupuis pushed the Penguins lead to 5-2, putting home a Kris Letang rebound off a Sidney Crosby won faceoff at 7:35 of the period.
The five goals scored by Pittsburgh were the most goals given up by New York this season. The Rangers were playing without No. 1 goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, captain Ryan Callahan and Michael Del Zotto. Carl Hagelin (14) and Marian Gaborik (35) scored for New York.
Defenseman Kris Letang was tremendous in the victory, logging 24:22 of ice time and a plus-5 rating, appearing in his first game in over two weeks.
Marc Andre Fleury made 29 saves to earn his 8th straight win and 38th win of the season.
With the win, the Penguins continue to put heat on New York and moved four points behind the conference leading Rangers and have a game in hand with 13 games remaining. Next up for Pittsburgh is a Saturday afternoon road game against the New Jersey Devils.
POST-GAME ANALYSIS & TIDBITS
— Sidney Crosby’s Night: 1 Assist, +3 rating, 1 shot on goal, 16:00 TOI, 4:24 PP TOI, 11W-10L, 52.5 FO%
Crosby was in on three of the five goals, going to the net on Cooke’s fluke goal in the first period, getting the primary assist on Kunitz’ third period tally and winning a faceoff on Pascal Dupuis third period goal. He appeared to tip Letang’s shot on Dupuis goal and Crosby should be credited with another assist.
What we saw tonight from Crosby was a lot of moving around in the lineup. He opened the game with Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy but in the second period saw some time with Steve Sullivan and Pascal Dupuis, in addition to taking a shift or two with Arron Asham-Craig Adams and also took a shift at wing with Jordan Staal at center.
At even strength Crosby wasn’t tentative in driving to the net where he opened space for his linemates and he was strong behind the net when protecting the puck.
On the power play, Pittsburgh was 0-for-4 on the man-advantage and Crosby moved around quite a bit. He opened at the right point where his presence forced the Rangers not to be aggressive up high but Crosby was a pass-first player for the most part tonight on the power play. His one shot was on the Penguins opening power play where he fired a slap shot from the point as Marty Biron made a nice glove save with no traffic in front.
— While tonight was Sidney Crosby’s night, the true star of the game was Kris Letang who had a team-high 24:22 of ice time, had an assist and was a +5 in the victory.
— The Penguins dominated play for the first 25-30 minutes of the game and when the game was opening up through the neutral zone, New York was no match for Pittsburgh as the Penguins were consistently able to push the play. Defensively though Pittsburgh has lapses and the Rangers did a good job of slowing the game down to halt Pittsburgh’s momentum at times in the first forty minutes, but the Chris Kunitz goal was a killer for New York and took everything out of them.
— Tyler Kennedy had some plays with Sidney Crosby out there where it’s obvious he’s never going to be a true fit with Crosby as he isn’t effective at making a quick open pass, but Kennedy had great wall play tonight and made a great feed to Matt Cooke on the rush in a straight ahead play on Cooke’s second goal of the game.
PIT – 2:54 Matt Cooke (13)
Assist: Tyler Kennedy (PIT 1-0)
NYR – 13:36 Carl Hagelin (14)
Assists: Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik (1-1)
PIT – 1:19 Evgeni Malkin (39)
Assist: James Neal (PIT 2-1)
PIT 2:31 – Matt Cooke (14)
Assists: Tyler Kennedy, Jordan Staal (PIT 3-1)
NYR 14:32 – Marian Gaborik (35)
Assists: Brad Richards, Carl Hagelin (PIT 3-2)
PIT – 3:01 Chris Kunitz (21)
Assists: Sidney Crosby, James Neal (PIT 4-2)
PIT – 7:35 Pascal Dupuis (19)
Assists: Kris Letang, Paul Martin (PIT 5-2)
Notes: Sidney Crosby assist gives him 13 points in nine games this season and he is averaging 1.58 points per game in his last 50 regular season games, dating back to 2010-2011 season….Jordan Staal extended his points and assist streak to nine games…..Pittsburgh scratched Dustin Jeffrey, Eric Tangradi, Richard Park, Ben Lovejoy and Brent Johnson….