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Penguins/Rangers Recap: Sid, Phil power Pittsburgh to shootout win

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Sidney Crosby scores an unreal goal, Phil Kessel gets an assist and they both score in the shootout to help the Pens beat the Rangers 4-3 in a shootout against the New York Rangers

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

Some much needed reinforcements trickle in with Jake Guentzel back (and back to a 1st line role) and Ron Hainsey getting in too. They replace Sundqvist+Gaunce from the last game, which not to pile on but that suddenly makes the team all the deeper and better just like that.

1st period

Game starts fairly quietly. The Rangers carry play early but then a nice shift from Sid and the Kids shifts momentum.

No score in the period but the Pens get a couple of power plays and end up with a 15-8 shot advantage. Henrik Lundqvist had to make a couple of really good stops on Chris Kunitz from in close.

2nd period

Bob Grove with a foreshadowing tweet before the game:

Sidney Crosby still won't go 7 games without an assist with this easy tap-in to feed Guentzel in front. Also, don't discount the sauce pass by Phil Kessel to get the puck to Crosby over and through the Rangers defense. Sublime skill to make it 1-0 on the power play for the Penguins.

Sid looks happy his bud is back, doesn't he?

Crosby then torments Lundqvist, just for fun- taking a shot from behind the goal line that somehow hits the goalie in the head and banks into the net. No one but Sid scores that goal, which is his league leading 43rd of the season.

But the Pens don't escape the period unscathed, Chad Ruhwedel fails to clear the zone on a weak clearing effort and Nick Holden takes a point shot that Tom Kuhnhackl tries to block but only gets a piece of and ends up knuckling it by Matt Murray to get NYR on the board. 2-1 after 2.

Shots were 12-9 Rangers in the 2nd period (24-20 overall for the Pens in the game). Goals were 2-1 in the period and 2-1 in the game.

3rd period

Bryan Rust exploits Lundqvist's 5-hole to make it 3-1. Really nice pass to find Rust in space and somehow he has a ton of open room in the o-zone to pick his spot.

NYR fights back though. J.T Millers gets way too easy a zone entrance and Justin Schultz deflects his effort but unfortunately the puck flutters down across the ice right to Rick Nash and he bangs it in for a goal to make it 3-2.

In the game's dying seconds the Rangers tie it up. Murray can't control a rebound and Chris Kreider finds it and scores. High drama ending 3-3.

Shots 32-30 Pittsburgh in the game.

Overtime

Wild OT. Guentzel goes balls to the wall and gets tripped as he flies into Lundqvist. Luckily everyone was OK after this one.

Then somehow the Rangers get a 3 on 0 rush at first but Murray makes a big save

No one scores in OT so it's shootout time

Shootout

Mika Zibanejad goes first, no dice. Kessel goes for the Pens and he hits pay-dirt with a deke..Sick shoulder shake here to open up Lundqvist

Mats Zucarello comes in with speed, can't get a shot on goal. Crosby is the hangman coming down from the gallows and Lundqvist doesn't have very long.

Game.

Some Thoughts

  • Nice to see Guentzel back less than 2 weeks from a concussion. Sure, all he had to do was have his stick on the ice for his goal, but he had to be in the right position and angle for the pass to find him and he did well to do just that.
  • Kessel hasn't scored many goals lately, and still looks a bit gunshy at times when it comes to firing shots, but he had a good game. His pass to Crosby on the aforementioned Guentzel goal was a thing of beauty. And his shootout move was pure skill. Hopefully a good sign that he can breakout soon, but even if not he found ways to help the team tonight.
  • Even so, Kessel did have 6 shot attempts on the night (2 SOG, 3 blocked, 1 missed) so even if not firing optimally he's still not adverse to look at the net.
  • Crosby's game tonight was unreal. The goal he scored just shouldn't happen. As usual, his passes were sublime. Tremendous stuff.
  • The Pens need Kessel and Crosby to be good if they want to win these days, and they were.
  • Nice to see Hainsey back. He got an assist on the Sid goal and also made a great little backhand shot from in front in OT. Didn't score but added some in the d-zone still, logging 22:05 too. Wasn't eased back in at all and did his part.
  • The Cole-Schultz pair still looks stretched to the breaking point. They can probably handle 2nd pair minutes but Schultz played almost 28 minutes and Cole notched 21+. Just a little too much but there's no other choice right now.
  • By virtue of the win, Pittsburgh is almost statistically guaranteed to be in the 2/3 matchup for the first round of the playoffs. NYR can max out with 106 points if they win all 4 of their remaining games. The Pens have 105 after tonight with 5 games remaining. Mathematically that's all but wrapped up.
  • Murray had a couple of adventurous moments. Was hit in the head/neck with a puck while scrambling that stung him in the 2nd period. He also coulda/shoulda controlled the rebound on the last goal to win in regulation, but didn't. He bounced back in OT and stopped 30/33 to get the win.

Big win to break a 4 game winless streak, Pittsburgh goes back home to meet a red-hot Carolina team on Sunday.