The Pittsburgh Penguins played without their two best players in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, lost Arron Asham to a shoulder injury early in the game, didn’t have Mark Letestu available due to a knee injury and played the final 24 minutes of regulation (including overtime/shootout) without Jordan Staal who received a match penalty for sucker punching Brandon Prust in the second period.
Add in all of those factors and the Penguins going down 2-0, Pittsburgh still found a way to come out with an impressive 4-3 shootout win against the New York Rangers (29-20-4, 62pts) on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Two players that stepped up their game with big performances was callup Dustin Jeffrey and goaltender Marc Andre Fleury. Jeffrey (3) scored the Penguins first of three second period goals who turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead.
Jeffrey later capped off the win, scoring in the seventh round of the shootout and lifting a depleted Pens team to a 4-3 victory as Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves through overtime and then stopped all seven attempts against him in the shootout.
Jeffrey netted the Penguins only shootout goal in the top half of the seventh round, snapping a shot past Lundqvist short side. Fleury then stopped Marian Gaborik as the Penguins notched their 15th road win of the season and 5th straight win at MSG.
The Penguins improved to 32-15-4, 68 pts on the season with the win and move three points behind conference leading Philadelphia (71 pts) who were shutout by the Tampa Bay Lightning (69 pts) 4-0 on Tuesday night.
The big story of the night for Pittsburgh was Dustin Jeffrey whose natural goal scoring ability has been showcased in his past couple callup games.
He doesn’t have an over powering shot by any means but he has an accurate shot and picks his spots very well. He has 2 goals and 1 assist in his last three games with the big club.
Jeffrey logged a season high 19:26 of ice time and was 9-for-19 in the face-off circle. He won a key offensive zone on Pittsburgh’s third goal of the game.
Due to injuries, tonight was the first time Jeffrey got an extensive look in several different areas. He had 1:47 of ice time on the power play and 1:29 on the PK.
Other notables for Pittsburgh tonight was Chris Kunitz (17) who had a goal and assist in the win. Mike Rupp (5) also scored for Pittsburgh.
The Penguins took uneccesary penalties which continues to become an issue but the Penguins No. 1 ranked penalty kill came up big, killing off 5 of 6 Rangers power plays.
The Penguins had gone six games and 10 of 11 without allowing a power-play goal. They were successful on 21 straight short-handed situations and 19 consecutive on the road before Ryan Callahan scored a power play goal late in the second period.
The Penguins host the New York Islanders tomorrow night at home. Pittsburgh is 2-1 against the Islanders this season.
Forward Evgeni Malkin could return to the lineup after missing four straight games. The Penguins though are expected to make at least one more callup upfront.
*Spoke with a source in Mark Letestu’s camp this evening and the extent of his knee injury won’t be known until late Wednesday morning.
*Ben Lovejoy was a healthy scratch for Pittsburgh. Deryk Engelland dressed for the first time in four games.
*Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has been placed on injured reserve. Pittsburgh is 6-3-1 without Crosby.
*Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Dan Girardi all returned to the lineup for New York.
*With the Penguins playing tomorrow night, the league will quickly review Jordan Staal’s punch that drew a match penalty. I’m told to expect a decision by 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
NYR Goal: 3:52 Brandon Prust (8) | Assists: Wojtek Wolski, Brian Boyle
NYR GOAL: 1:41 Artem Anisimov (11) | Assists: Brandon Dubinsky, Marian Gaborik
PIT GOAL: 5:30 Dustin Jeffrey (3) (Power Play) | Assists: Chris Kunitz, Alex Goligoski
PIT GOAL: 10:36 Mike Rupp (5) | Assists Maxime Talbot, Deryk Engelland
PIT GOAL: 14:12 Chris Kunitz (17) | Assists: Zbynek Michalek, Brooks Orpik
NYR GOAL: 19:47 Ryan Callahan (11) (Power Play) | Assists: Michael Del Zotto, Mats Zuccarello