The Pittsburgh Penguins use the same exact lineup as yesterday’s 4-1 win over Detroit, meaning Tristan Jarry starts his 2nd game in as many days with Matt Murray still away from the team on personal (family) reasons. And Ian Cole remains on healthy scratch island.
The Rangers are starting Henrik Lundqvist - as expected but the King did have to come in for relief in NYR’s 7-2 loss yesterday to NYI. Somewhat unexpected (at least to us here in Pittsburgh) Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh is out today, as is Kevin Hayes, both of whom seemed to get nicked up in yesterday’s game.
Death, taxes and Patric Hornqvist driving his countryman Henrik Lundqvist crazy. The Pens get on the board first. Nice drive to the net by Carl Hagelin too on this one.
Patric Hornqvist’s tally extends his goal streak against the Rangers to three games (3G-2A). pic.twitter.com/7z6BtZCXYn— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 15, 2018
Then the Rangers take over, some bad luck with a turnover from Evgeni Malkin leads to a Michael Grabner breakaway who makes a nice move and beats Tristan Jarry on a backhander.
Michael Grabner, off to the races. pic.twitter.com/b1pqKmG15r— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) January 15, 2018
Olli Maatta gets a nice chance but Lundqvist gets a tinny piece before the crossbar catches the rest.
Late in the period NYR gets a nice o-zone shift with Justin Schultz and Olli Maatta looking a little discombobulated, puck gets passed back to Brendan Smith at the top of the circles who fires one short-side on a goal that Jarry probably wants back.
Shots end up 13-13 after 1 period, all at even strength. Scoring chances were 10-7 Pittsburgh according to Natural Stat Trick, which makes the 2-1 hole all the more frustrating.
Mats Zuccarello takes a penalty but tthe Pens top ranked unit can’t score on the first power play of the game. Soon after Brady Skjei takes a holding call but despite 4 PP shots the Pens can’t score.
Game continues on when Ryan Reaves rocks Marc Staal with a heavy but clean hit. Same shift later on Brendan Smith returns the favor with a monstrous hit on Reaves. For our money the Smith hit on Reaves was well after a second following when he played the puck, but you live by the sword, you die by the sword. Jamie Oleksiak takes offense with Smith launching himself into Reaves so Oleksiak beats up Smith and gets an instigator. Perfect world that might even out with Smith getting an interference but can’t complain too too much.
Not a good life choice to fight a 6’7 guy who knows how to chuck ‘em, Brendan Smith.
Oleksiak doesn't like Smith's hit, takes an extra two for instigating pic.twitter.com/Fa63wmUhSn— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) January 15, 2018
Pittsburgh ties it up, great effort by Dominik Simon here to score his first career NHL goal to make it 2-2.
He'll never forget that one.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 15, 2018
Congratulations on goal #1, Simon. May there be many, many more with the Penguins. pic.twitter.com/1y8pelWtSF
Just 1:15 later Phil Kessel scores a rocket of a shot over Lundqvist’s glove to give the Pens a 3-2 lead. Nice pass by Conor Sheary to feed him and you simply can’t teach a shot like this.
Shots after 40 minutes are 31-20 Pittsburgh. The count that matters is 3-2 Pens after a great second period
The Pens appear to score with Riley Sheahan driving to the net. After a review (and Henrik Lundqvist throwing the puck at the refs in a temper tantrum) it’s viewed to be a “distinct” kicking motion by Sheahan...Which whatev, not really sure how they got to that determination but the end result is no goal.
The fairly rare Crosby-Kessel 5v5 shift yields results when Phil hits Sid with a great pass in the middle of the rink and Crosby has time and space to wrist a shot blocker side on the so-called King. 4-2 PIT.
Is there anything Sidney Crosby can't do?— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 15, 2018
Crosby’s goal extends his point streak to four games (3G-7A). He has 10 goals in his last 12 games against the Rangers. pic.twitter.com/q64i37uU9f
Lundqvist leaves for the empty net and who else but Carl Hagelin jumps on the chance for an easy goal. 5-2 and ballgame.
Shots end up 47-28 for the game in favor of the Pens.
- Tough for the Rangers without McDonagh as their captain and traditional #1 defenseman, but boy did Pittsburgh dominate all-around in this one. 5v5 Corsi attempts were 51-34 Pens. Scoring chances were 27-12. Great effort and superior game by the Pens, who end up with the deserved win.
- As we mentioned earlier today in the pregame thoughts, the Pens and NYR are two ships going in different directions right now. Pittsburgh ties a current season high with a 4-game winning streak. NYR loses their third in a row.
- It’s New York so it’s always a short leash, but their head coach Alain Vigneault got caught on camera near the end of the game looking very uncomfortable. Who knows how hot his seat just may be, but it sure looks like another couple bad games and he might just be the first coach fired in the league this season.
- What opposing fans wish Crosby was for whining and crying to the refs...Henrik Lundqvist actually is.
- Nice of Simon to get his first career goal, he had a few cracks at it tonight and seemed like it was just a matter of time.
- A fairly quiet 27:34 played tonight for Kris Letang (in part due to Oleksiak getting a 10-minute misconduct). At risk of him not playing well next time out, probably fair to point out in the last week-10 days Letang has been really, really good. Other than Justin Schultz 23:44) no other Pens defenseman was above 20:01 played.
- Speaking of Oleksiak the noted bad boy had 2 assists, was a +2, 4 shots on goal and the fight win in just 11:00 of time played. Fair or foul, Ian Cole isn’t getting out of the press box anytime soon.
- After being so great of late, a pretty quiet game for Malkin, who really was only noticable when his turnover ended up in the net. Crosby and especially Kessel were shining bright to pick up the slack on this night.
- Tristan Jarry wasn’t asked to do a ton, but he was solid when called upon, even more-so considering he was playing his second game in as many days, no small task for any goalie let alone a 22-year old rookie. But Jarry was up for the task and played very well.
- Just a random thought, but in 2016, 2017 and now 2018 you’ve had Jarry beat Lundqvist and the Rangers as a Penguin. Jeff Zatkoff lives in fame as Mr. Game 1 for doing the same. Murray’s beaten the Rangers. Marc-Andre Fleury too. Maybe something to look up later, but I wonder if 4 different goalies have ever beaten the same team in less than a 2 year period like the wizardry and rotating goalies of Pittsburgh have bested old Hank and the Rags.
4 games in a row as winners have the Pens riding high for the moment. Plenty of season left and now they have to deal with travel and changing time zones as they go out to Californ-i-a for 3 games in the next week, looking to continue to build on the recent success.