The Pittsburgh Penguins playing without forwards Chris Kunitz, Patric Hornqvist, Beau Bennett and defensemen Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, earned a point in New York Monday night, fighting back late in the third period with goals from Evgeni Malkin (15) and Steve Downie (4), before falling in overtime as Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein scored 3:45 into overtime on a slap shot through traffic from just inside the blue line to give the Rangers a needed 4-3 win.
For the up and down Rangers, the win moves them into a tie for third place in the Metropolitan Division with the Washington Capitals in what will likely be a two-team battle for third the rest of the way in the Metro.
As we’ve seen over the past couple years, whether it’s different personnel or coaching, the Penguins always find a way to play very competitive hockey when dealing with multiple injuries. One thing they do is simplify their game which happened last night.
Despite falling down 3-1 in the third, the Penguins had a strong territorial edge in the game, (47 Shot Attempts / 32 Against 5 v 5), especially the third period as the Rangers kept sitting back and it burned them with Malkin and Downie scoring 24 second apart late in the third.
“I think we were buzzing all [third] period,” Downie said, via NHL.com “We came out and I think we controlled the pace of the third and we got the bounces we deserved. We played well and I thought it was a good comeback.”
Steve Downie | 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2, 17:15 TOI | Injuries to Chris Kunitz and Patric Hornqvist have opened an opportunity for the coaching staff to give Steve Downie a legitimate look in the top-6. Downie looked extremely comfortable playing with Sidney Crosby, was effective down low and posted his fourth multi-point game as a Penguin with a goal and assist. The Spaling – Crosby – Downie line produced two even strength goals on the night and all three had strong possession numbers with Downie at 67 CF% (16/8).
Brandon Sutter | 1 Assist, -1, 4 Hits, 24:21 TOI | Sutter led all Penguins forwards with 24:24 of ice time and continues to fit very well when playing with Evgeni Malkin. Sutter setup Evgeni Malkin for his third period goal, but first made a great zone entry on the goal by poking the puck around Ryan McDonagh in the neutral zone. If the Penguins want to get the most out of Sutter, something to ponder in keeping him with Malkin.
Christian Ehrhoff | 5 SOG, 4 Hits, 27:34 | Ehrhoff’s transformation over the last three weeks has been something to watch. During that span he’s looking like the player he was in Vancover. Ehrhoff logged a team-high 27:34 of ice time and defensively he’s been extremely sound and the Penguins best defensive player of late, something few expected with the tape he put together in Buffalo. Offensively the production for Ehrhoff is likely to continue to increase. He had 7 shot attempts vs Rangers.
Paul Martin | -1, 25:12 TOI | Martin played high minutes at 25:12, but looked a step slow all night. Martin’s poor turnover in the neutral zone led to JT Miller’s second period goal and Martin was on the ice for 3 goals against in the loss.
Brian Dumoulin | -2, 1 BS, 14:59 TOI | Dumoulin got a look in all situations, posted a 63 CF% (17/10) 5 v 5, but overall he was a weak link for the Penguins on the blueline last night. Dumoulin had two key miscues on the Nash and Hayes goals. One area Dumoulin showed strong poise was with the second power play unit when running the point. However, one area that continues to hinder Dumoulin against NHL talent a bit is a slow first couple strides. Once he gets going, he’s a solid skater for a player his size but he needs to continue to get quicker.
Evgeni Malkin | 1 Goal, -1, 5 SOG, 22:37 | Malkin netted his 15th goal of the season and he continues to play at an MVP level over the last couple weeks. Malkin has 8 goals over his last 9 games.
Nick Spaling | 1 Goal, 1 Assist, + 1, 3 SOG, 16:51 TOI | Spaling posted his second multi-point game as a Penguin with a goal and assist in the loss. He buried a slap shot past Henrik Lundqvist from just inside the left circle. Spaling would later assist on Downie’s game tying goal.