Getting off to a good start is nothing new for the Pittsburgh Penguins, tonight is their 27th game and for the 20th time they took a 1-0 lead after Nick Spaling took a great slapshot and beat Henrik Lundqvist high to the glove side.
However the lead wouldn't last thanks to a trial by fire for young defenseman Brian Dumoulin, playing in his third NHL game of the season got welcomed rudely to Madison Square Garden in the second period by a pair of stars. First, after Paul Martin coughed up a puck in the neutral zone, Dumoulin stared down Martin St. Louis and JT Miller on a 2-on-1. St. Louis made a nifty subtle shake on Dumoulin and fired a pass right by him to Miller for a goal on Marc-Andre Fleury .
Then just a few minutes later Dumoulin tried to make an ill-advised kick with his skate on a puck Mats Zuccarello lifted in. Didn't work and it got collected by Rick Nash who was in all alone on Fleury and scored his 18th goal of the season on a second effort.
The third period offered no relief for Dumoulin, who basically escorted Kevin Hayes to the net and then wiped out as NYR made it 3-1 with just 7 minutes left to go.
However the Rangers have not been a good team at holding leads this season, and in a 0:24 span, the Pens got both goals back. After a really strong period from Blake Comeau - Evgeni Malkin - Brandon Sutter line, Malkin finally was rewarded with a goal, his 15th of the season and his 8th goal in the past 9 ga,es . The next shift out Steve Downie got to a loose puck first and with a mess of humanity in front of the net batted a goal that somehow ended up in the net.
That sent the game to overtime, where the Pens couldn't push through quick enough for a goal before the Rangers played the puck around and Kevin Klein scored the game winner from the point through traffic, on a shot that might have gotten re-directed from someone in front.
- We live in a world where Robert Bortuzzo almost scored a short-handed goal in the 2nd period off a 3-on-2 rush. Lundqvist made a good save to deny this, and order is restored in the world.
- Just when you think the "Zach Sill as an NHL player" thing couldn't get any worse: 4 minute double-minor for a high stick in the offensive zone. Still has 0 career points in now 44 games. Can't wait to see what's for an encore.
- Speaking of bad hockey players, the shift before Nick Spaling scored, old friend Tanner Glass failed to clear the puck from his defensive zone (as he is apt to do) and Sidney Crosby quickly fired a puck to a wide open Spaling for a quality shot. Lundqvist put out Glass's fire with a big save, but just another sign of how players incapable of attention to detail actively hurt a team's chances of winning.
- The game had a wide-open feel, often the teams would exchange rushes and shots on the same shift. Lots of pucks thrown at the net too with the Pens attempting 63 total shots on the night and the Rangers far behind with only 47, due to locking it down and not pushing the issue in the 3rd period.
- 4 shots on goal in the 3rd period alone for Evgeni Malkin. He wasn't rewarded until the end, but along with some good cycling from his linemates and defensemen to keep the puck in the zone, took the game over.
- The penalty kill was great again tonight, going 4/4. The refs again weren't in a hurry to put Pittsburgh one the PP, making only one call on the Rangers all night.
- Dumoulin took a seat and watched the final 7:02 in the 3rd period, and all of overtime from the bench after having a major part in the first three goals against. Rough night for the youngster, but it's only career game #9. Keep that in mind.
With that, finally a break. The Penguins have been scheduled hard for the past few weeks and finally get a few days of inactivity before starting 3 more games in 4 days on Friday. Until then, a chance for some well-earned rest and they at least pull a point out of a divisional road game where they were losing by 2 goals and facing a good goalie. And down 4 of their best wingers and 2 of their best defensemen. Gotta take that in the big picture.