Beau Bennett and Tyler Kennedy, BFFs - Justin K. Aller
Don't look now, but the defense is doing well...
I barely got a chance to sit down for this game before Beau Bennett scored, with assists from Dustin Jeffrey and Tyler Kennedy to make the score 1-0. That should give you a good idea of what the beginning of the game looked like. The Penguins possessed the puck like nothing I've seen recently. The Rangers took 10:55 to register a shot on goal and even then only did so due to a Simon Despres elbowing call. It took 16:52 for the Rangers to register a shot at even strength. Henrik Lundqvist definitely earned his keep, and Roman Hamrlik showed repeatedly why the Capitals waived him.
Shortly before the end of the first period, Ryan McDonagh shoved Pascal Dupuis into the end boards at speed, and Dan Girardi punched Sidney Crosby in the back of the head. For this, Girardi and Crosby went to the box and McDonagh got nothing. For now, anyway--this might be a Shanaban.
It took the Penguins about half of the second period to get going. Until that point, though, Marc-Andre Fleury looked like a #1 overall pick and held strong against everything the Rangers could throw at him. Even then, though, the Penguins traded momentum with the Rangers throughout the period, making this look like the type of second period that Pens fans have come to fear. Luckily, nothing went in the net, so the score remained 1-0 after two.
The Penguins started to get control back in the third, and when Anton Stralman tripped Tyler Kennedy, Kennedy made them pay on the ensuing power play, scoring a goal assisted by Kris Letang and Paul Martin, and then 43 seconds later, Pascal Dupuis buried a backhand shot, assisted by Dustin Jeffrey and Matt Cooke. The Penguins had to weather a bit of a storm toward the end of the period, but nothing doing for the Rangers. Game over.
- First period stats: Penguins led in shots, 13-4. Rangers blocked 10 shots to the Penguins' 4 (yes, they were seriously in the Rangers' end the whole period). Both teams were 0-for-1 on the power play and won 11 faceoffs. The Rangers posted 14 hits to the Penguins' 3.
- Second period stats: Rangers had 10 shots to the Penguins' 6 and blocked only 2 compared to 7 for the Penguins. The Penguins had 1 power play and failed to score. The Rangers won 8 faceoffs to the Penguins' 7, and the Rangers had 7 hits to the Penguins' 6.
- Third period stats: Rangers had 9 shots and 6 blocks, Penguins 8 and 5, respectively. There was one power play a side, and the Penguins converted their opportunity. The Rangers won 13 faceoffs to the Penguins' 4, so that could have been better. Lastly, both teams tallied 5 hits.
- Head coach Dan Bylsma was switching up lines like a fiend in this game, putting James Neal with Crosby and Chris Kunitz at times, and putting Tyler Kennedy out on the second power play unit instead of Beau Bennett, putting Bennett out on the third line, and so forth. I don't get it. Did I imagine the seven-game winning streak coming into this game? Things have been rolling like crazy lately. Why would you change it up now? Why would you change it up during any tight game? I love Dan Bylsma's forechecking system, but his decision making leaves a lot to be desired. Obviously in this case it worked out, but if the Pens lost, I have no doubt that these decisions would be the topic of the day.
- Marc-Andre Fleury finally gets shutout number 23, taking the all-time Penguins lead in shutouts from Tom Barrasso, who had 22. Fleury got these shutouts in 455 games, while Barrasso played 460 with the team. This game moved his save percentage on the season to .909, which is exactly his career mark.
- Dustin Jeffrey got his first two assists of the season today. Tyler Kennedy had two points today. Not bad for the much-maligned duo. Oh, and holy crap, the Pens got secondary scoring. Who knew?