Game 61: Post-Game Analysis
The New York Rangers (27-27-7) played a like a desperate team that is fighting for their playoff lives Friday night and were rewarded with a 60 minute+ effort in defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in overtime.
Olli Jokinen scored the game winner just a 1:02 into overtime, skating down the right side and fired a wrist shot past defender Kris Letang and over Marc Andre Fleury’s left shoulder.
The win was the Rangers first in eight games against Pittsburgh dating back to last season. Brandon Dubinsky and Vinny Prospal also scored for New York.
New York put together a gutsy effort playing most of the game with 11 forwards and 5 defensemen as Marian Gaborik only played briefly in the first period and defenseman Michael Del Zotto sustained “a significant laceration in his chest on the second shift of the game, that took more than 45 stitches to close.
Sitting two points out of the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference, the vibe coming out of the Rangers locker room is that the playoffs started tonight for them and they played like it.
Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby scored twice for Pittsburgh and surpassed his previous career high in goals (39), beating goaltender Henrik Lundqvist at 6:42 of the first period on a snap shot in the high slot for his 40th goal of the season.
Crosby would add another goal in the third period on the power play, beating Lundqvist on a fake shot/pass deflection from defenseman Sergei Gonchar in what was his 41st goal of the season.
For Pittsburgh though it was disappointing effort as the Rangers were the better team from the second period on, out-hitting (32-22), out-shooting (39-27) and winning the face-off battle against Pittsburgh.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby expressed displeasure following the game in how the Penguins played and Dan Bylsma was not happy with the Penguins execution and their puck management game.
New York was aggressive at all ends of the ice as the Rangers were +7 in the giveaway margin.
Goaltender Brent Johnson started the game but did not finish it, leaving in the second period with what is being regarded as a groin injury that will likely make him not available for Sunday’s game against Nashville.
Team officials didn’t sound optimistic I’m told.
Johnson made 20 saves on 22 shots. Marc Andre Fleury came into relief and made 16 saves. Fleury though took the loss after Sidney Crosby tied the game at 2-2 in the third as Fleury became the goalie of record.
Pittsburgh host the Nashville Predators Sunday afternoon before the Olympic break begins. After Sunday, the Penguins will not play again until March 2nd but the players (not participating in Olympics) are required to return to Pittsburgh for a mini-camp starting February 24th.
The trade freeze began today at 3:00 p.m. and ends on February 28th at 11:59 p.m.
However, the Penguins can demote and call up players up until Tuesday February 16th, therefore, Mark Letestu will be re-assigned to Wilkes Barre following Sunday’s game.
*Martin Skoula was a healthy scratch for Pittsburgh. Eric Godard and Max Talbot were also scratches and both players remain sidelined with groin injuries.
Talbot will be shutdown until after the Olympic break. Source tell me he may do some light skating tomorrow.
*Forwards Pascal Dupuis, Ruslan Fedotenko and defenseman Mark Eaton were each a minus-2 in the game. Fedotenko has a team worst minus-15 rating.
*Pittsburgh went 1-for-2 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
*Rangers defenseman Marc Staal led all player with 28:02 of ice time. Sergei Gonchar led the Penguins with 25:18 of ice time.
Scouts Watch: Nashville was among 6 teams with scouts in attendance tonight. Others of interest that were in attendance include the Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks and Tampa Bay.