— The New York Rangers (39-30-4, 82 pts) continued their winning ways against the Penguins (41-23-8, 90 pts), defeating Pittsburgh 5-2 on Sunday afternoon at the Consol Energy Center.
The Rangers who extended their winning streak to four games, took 4 of 6 from the Penguins this season and winning all three games at the Consol Energy Center.
Henrik Lundqvist improved to 4-1-1 against Pittsburgh this year. He made his 17th straight start this afternoon.
New York is 6-0-1 in their last 7 games, collecting 32 goals during that stretch.
— Matt Cooke’s hit was obviously a turning point in the game as the Rangers scored four third period goals, including two power play goals in the third.
“Any time you take a penalty like that, you put your team in a tough spot. That put us in a situation where it changed the game, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said.
Even the Penguins who have been strong supporters of Cooke, will find it hard to come to the defense of his actions today. That was a 5-minute major for any player in the NHL and there’s no argument that Cooke was signaled out.
The tipping point for the Penguins was Matt Niskanen’s 4-minute minor as Marian Gaborik (22) and Ryan Callahan (23) scored 11 seconds apart.
Cookes antics though led to the loss and this could end up being a loss that the Penguins look back to as a reason they don’t open the playoffs with home ice (if that were to happen).
— The Penguins sputtering power play remains a mess and the reason to be very concerned is that there’s absolutely no chemistry. Pittsburgh is 2 for their last 45. It’s kind of amazing that they have 90 points with how bad this unit has performed this season.
No one seems to want to take charge of this unit, which remains their achilles heel.
— Paul Martin was a team-worst minus-3 for the Penguins today.
No onto some positives from today’s game:
— The Penguins continue to get excellent play from Chris Kunitz, who collected his 21st goal of the year, a shorthanded marker in the third period. Kunitz has 6 points in his last 3 games and was very effective on the forecheck, adding 3 hits.
— Jordan Staal has rebounded from last Saturday’s horrific game, with three straight strong performances. Staal has 6 points in his last 5 games, scoring his 10 goal of the season today.
— The Penguins outshot the Rangers 40-27 and held a 19-7 edge in the second period. They got their defensemen involved which is what they need to do.
Also liked how James Neal was using his size and speed to drive to the net early in the game. The team needs him to do more of that.