On the back-to-back, Casey DeSmith gets back in the crease for the first time in a while. Sam Lafferty draws out as a healthy scratch and Anthony Angello gets back in, otherwise the Pens are the same as last game.
Just 1:18 in, the Rangers strike. Mike Matheson fails to hold the blueline and the puck gets by him and NYR is off on a 2-on-1. Mika Zibanejad does well to feign his move and freeze DeSmith, and then Zibanejad lifts the puck to the bar and down for New York to take an early lead.
The Pens continue to play just dreadful hockey in the first 15 minutes of the period. Shots at one point are 9-1 New York.
But then, in a flash, Pittsburgh wakes up and scores three goals in 61 seconds out of no where to turn the complexion of the game. First, shortly after a power play expires, John Marino scores his first goal of the season. Nice screen by Evan Rodrigues here and we have a tie 1-1 game.
Narrator: And this was just the beginning. pic.twitter.com/nJZw8zcXFj— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 8, 2021
Then, it’s Kasperi Kapanen time. The youngster hunts down a bouncing pucks, springs himself on a breakaway and shoots forehand (like he always does) on Alexandar Georgiev. 2-1 Pens.
Fun fact: Kasperi Kapanen has points in six of his last eight games vs. the Rangers (2G-6A). pic.twitter.com/AeUl64NZdY— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 8, 2021
Then Sidney Crosby strikes. Brian Dumoulin makes a nice pass, and we see some vintage Crosby to split the two defenders but, yikes, Georgiev just whiffs with his glove on this shot. 3-1 Pens.
THREE PENGUINS GOALS IN JUST 1:01.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 8, 2021
Yeah, you heard that right. pic.twitter.com/TrsFdRilRk
This goal ends Georgiev’s night, he surrenders three goals on just six shots and Pittsburgh comes literally out of nowhere to take the lead in a game that they played so poorly in.
Shots in the first are 11-6 Rangers. NYR was the better team for probably 18 minutes, but the Pens turned it on for three goals. New York had 61% of the 5v5 Corsi For%, but the only thing that matters is the 3-1 score at the end.
Well, I guess the Pens played better in the second period than they played against Philadelphia last week when scoring three goals in quick succession and then falling apart. The Pens got two power plays in a row in the middle of the period, but failed to deliver what could have been a knockout punch to the Rangers in this game.
But, on the bright side, those penalty kills also derailed New York’s comeback efforts.
Shots in the second were 9-6 Pens.
No Jared McCann to start the third period.
Kinkaid seems like the king of marginal goalies that just gives the Pens so many problems. He stones Kapanen on a great scoring chance from in front.
But the Pens also keep the clock moving, and Malkin and Kapanen keep playing off each other well. Malkin scores his sixth goal of the season with 6:03 left on a pass from Kapanen.
Evgeni Malkin now has points in six-straight home games (2G-7A).— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 8, 2021
Oh, and Kasperi Kapanen had three points tonight (1G-2A).
Not bad! pic.twitter.com/HmTuDzo9f4
Zach Aston-Reese puts a cherry on top of this proverbial Sunday with a goal to make it 5-1 with 3:23 left as Teddy Blueger makes a nice backhand pass over.
And that will be that. The Pens protect home ice and get to a modest two game winning streak now by downing the Rangers. These same two games will face each other for a rematch on Tuesday.
- When the Pens are doing good things or getting breakaways or scoring on the rush, Kasperi Kapanen is almost always involved. Or it feels like he is. Three point game tonight, six points in the last four games. His speed and offensive ability is translating into a lot of offense right now.
- Is Evgeni Malkin back? It sure looks like it. The past 4-5 games, he’s been off the charts. His skating, his engagement level, his passes and getting pucks to the net. It took a while to start rounding into form, but here’s a star that’s clearly on the upswing and playing up to star caliber levels.
- As mentioned in the game preview, Georgiev started yesterday. He won, but goalies playing two days in a row typically suffer a drop off. New York, already without starting Igor Shesterkin due to injury, just decided to roll the dice and see if Georgiev would play strong. That didn’t work out, at all. The Crosby goal was pretty weak on his part and a back-breaker for the team.
- Also, did coach David Quinn not realize that Keith Kinkaid has done very well in his career against the Pens while with New Jersey? If he would have taken that into account, he probably would have been inclined to give Kinkaid a shot instead of playing a tired goalie. Alas, he did not. Bummer for him.
- Really liked the game from Rodrigues in his second game back from injury. He screened the goalie on the initial Pens goal, cool. In the second he made a nice little pass that generated a scoring chance and nearly another goal for Jared McCann. It’s baby steps, but right now getting ANYTHING positive out of fourth line players is new and exciting.
- The fourth line still got slaughtered on xGF and Corsi on the advanced side of things to a comical degree. They have a lot more work to do there and that probably means two new faces around Rodrigues on that line, but a little bit at a time.
- No Pens defender has been on ice for more goals in the past 7-8 games or had worse advanced stats than Mike Matheson. Unfortunately that would continue to trend down in this game.
- Speaking of struggling in the defensive zone, the Rangers continuing to make Jack Johnson a healthy scratch is foul play. The only good thing about going through having Jack Johnson on your team is looking forward to him going to the next team and getting to play against Jack Johnson. To deny us of these pleasures is just wrong and frankly rude. Play JJ, you cowards!
- Great job by the Pens to stay out of the box, they only took one minor penalty (Crosby a tripping in the first period). That’s a good way to hide a struggling penalty kill by not having them have to get out there.
- About the only negative out of this one was the apparent injury McCann suffered sometime in the second period. McCann has 3G+2A (including an assist tonight) in the six games since he returned from his last injury and was really helping a guy like Malkin stand out in the last few games.
Good day for the Pens to get the win, and watch as Boston and Philadelphia lose in regulation on the out of town scoreboard. The Pens also improve now to 4-1 this year against NYR, which is a big reason why they are right in the playoff mix and the Rangers are a bit below it. These two teams have a big game against each other with a chance for New York to make up on some of the ground they lost tonight coming on Tuesday.