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Penguins/Rangers Recap: Pittsburgh scores seven to win seventh straight

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The Pens get the better of Henrik Lundqvist yet again.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Lineups

Another game, another happy return as Bryan Rust is back from a brief injury to take his spot back on the top line.

First period

Sleepy start for the Penguins, not much going on. They’re able to kill off a penalty early but never get on track, including on a power play of their own. Shots are 12-5 through one for the Rangers.

Second period

Pittsburgh hits some fireworks in the second period. The first goal comes from who else but the fourth line with Matt Cullen making a nice play with the puck to find Zach Aston-Reese in the slot. Somehow the Rangers defense missed him and ZAR does well too quickly get the puck out of his feet and while still hunched over flutter a shot that beats Henrik Lundqvist far-side. Weird looking one but it counts just the same.

A few minutes later, Jake Guentzel extends the lead to 2-0. Lundqvist didn’t have a chance on this one with Rust and Marc Staal battling in front of him and the puck actually clicking off the defender Staal and into the net.

Then, 69 nice seconds later they game blows open. Kris Letang steals the puck from Pavel Buchnevich and then cuts into the zone all alone. Letang then fires it high over the glove of Lundqvist to make it 3-0.

Just 26 seconds later though, the Rangers stay within shouting distance, if temporarily, when Ryan Strome tips in a point shot past Matt Murray to make it 3-1.

Before the period ended though, the Pens’ second line came up big. Patric Hornqvist did well to enter the zone and drop a pass for Evgeni Malkin. Malkin had plenty of time and used his vision to put a pass for Dominik Simon to have a clean look. Simon picks his spot and beats Lundqvist and it’s 4-1.

Third period

Just 1:03 into the third, Malkin strikes. Really it’s on Lundqvist to let this trickler in. Softy there and it’s 5-1 suddenly.

The Rangers again though quickly get that one back, with the Pens’ coverage getting a little lax and Buchnevich getting the puck from right in front that he’s able to snap in. 5-2.

But the Pens end Lundqvist’s night in short-order. Great outlet pass from Letang up to Tanner Pearson on the power play and Pearson sees Lundqvist off his angle and snipes him top glove side corner. 6-2.

Sidney Crosby wants in on the goal scoring party - and after all if you’re gonna win a seventh straight, why not score the seventh goal?

Some thoughts

  • Loved the Aston-Reese family (native to NY) celebrating in the stands after ZAR’s goal. Proud pop in hand with his Budweiser, what a legend that guy is becoming. And the NBC cameras caught assistant coach Mark Recchi showing Zach his family’s reaction on the iPad on the bench shortly after it happens. What a time to be alive!
  • Five straight multi-point games for Crosby now. Big time stuff there. Not too shocking that’s almost as long as the win streak.
  • Great night for Malkin too with a goal and an assist, and he drew a power play too that the team scored on.
  • From this eye, Letang was probably the best player on the ice though. He didn’t get an assist on the game’s first goal, but his pinch created the time for the play to develop. (And kudos Riley Sheahan for rolling back to the point to cover). Add in the beauty of a play to score basically a red line in breakaway (don’t see too many defensemen in the NHL doing that) and the great pass on Pearson’s goal and it was a great effort all around.
  • The velocity on that shot Pearson got was encouraging too. Worth remembering the team thought he might be out a month after getting hurt against Colorado. He stayed in the lineup but didn’t score much. That shot shows his performance might be back to normal.
  • Pretty good night for Murray who improves on an absurdly good all-time personal record and stat-line in Madison Square Garden. He always seems to perform well there and has won every game he’s played there and tonight was no exception on either front.
  • Pens up in the last seven games by a combined score of 28-9. If only this run could last forever!

It’s been a good run and the good news about the schedule is the team will get the chance to stay hot and keep the momentum rolling. Three game home streak opens up on Friday against Winnipeg.