Pittsburgh gets some good news with the quick return of Jason Zucker from injury. But Josh Archibald is unavailable for an injury of his own, so Danton Heinen slides down the lineup and stays in the game.
Hope you didn’t miss the start of this game. The Penguins rush down the ice and Jake Guentzel shoots. Igor Shesterkin leaves a rebound for Rickard Rakell to get a Grade A chance in close, but Shesterkin stones him. The puck goes the other way and Chris Kreider looks to center that hits maybe Marcus Pettersson and flutters into the net. Really tough break for the Pens to go down 1-0 only 22 seconds into the game, after they easily could have had the game’s first goal even quicker.
P.O. Joseph takes the game’s first penalty soon after, and it looks like the Pens are in survival mode right out of the gates. Fortunately for them, they do survive and kill it off without giving up a shot.
A little later Pettersson goes to the box, but the Rangers then give Pittsburgh a power play. Evgeni Malkin hits Sidney Crosby with a brilliant pass, but the defense just stymies things for Crosby who looks to move the puck for a tap-in instead of shooting.
It was a tale of two periods (despite just being one period) to open things up, with the Pens tallying six of the first seven shots and NYR responding to close things out with seven of the last eight. Overall 1-0 on the big board and 8-7 in shots on goal, both in favor of the Rangers.
Kasperi Kapanen heads to the penalty box early in the second, to give New York a third power play pretty early in the game, but the strong Pens’ PK does their job once again.
Zucker sets Bryan Rust up for the Pens’ best chance in the game, but Shesterkin is way out of of his crease and makes it look easy while shutting it down with the glove.
Pittsburgh isn’t getting shots, but they keep digging. Zucker and Malkin get some of the juices flowing in the o-zone and then on the next shift Rakell draws a penalty for Pittsburgh’s second power play of the game. It comes through. Malkin rips a shot from the left side, and with a Rakell screen the puck blows by Shesterkin. 1-1 game with 5:36 remaining in the second.
IT'S A NINE-GAME POINT STREAK FOR EVGENI MALKIN! pic.twitter.com/NveviXn9uA— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 21, 2022
The Pens keep it going, Crosby feeds Jake Guentzel in front, nice save by Shesterkin. The Rangers take a retaliation penalty to put the Pens back out on the power play and the big boys are feeling it at the moment. It takes to the second group, but the Pens get there. Rust tips in a Joseph shot, takes a predictable late cross-check from piece o’ trash Ryan Lindgren who is a little too late this time. Pens up 2-1.
The Penguins power play cannot be stopped— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 21, 2022
That's two man-advantage goals tonight and a PPG in nine-straight games. You love to see it. pic.twitter.com/a1Rqc1hCUv
Shots in the second end up 10-10 in an opposite affair from the first where the Rangers were better in the early part, but Pittsburgh totally took over as the game went on, with the power play providing two goals and plenty of, err, power.
Jarry stays sharp to deny Kreider after he sneaks behind the defense on a line change and is in alone.
About mid-way through, Guentzel hits Crosby with a great pass, Sid goes to the backhand and beats Shesterkin five-hole to extend the Pens’ lead to 3-1.
Sidney_Crosby_backhand_beauty.mp4 pic.twitter.com/N1LUWWlTjG— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 21, 2022
It doesn’t last long, Trocheck puts the puck right through Joseph, then takes advantage of Ruhwedel taking himself out of the play with a slide in order to easily feed the puck to Kreider. Kreider lifts it over Jarry for his second goal of the game to get NYR right back in the game at a 3-2 Pittsburgh lead.
Kreids, H/T Nonna Troch (+ Vince) pic.twitter.com/Wdb72HOlN6— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) December 21, 2022
New York pulls the goalie with two minutes left. Mika Zibanejad cranks a shot, Jarry is there to deny him. Brian Dumoulin then gets lucky to not be called for tripping Zibanejad as he drives to the net.
The Rangers run out of time before their pressure can pay off, and Pittsburgh skates out with the victory.
- Really weird first 10 minutes in this game for Tristan Jarry. He didn’t have a chance with a deflected puck buzzing in on him just a few seconds in, then he didn’t see another shot on goal for the first half of the first period. Well, he saw Vincent Trocheck sling a shot by him too, but it hit the post and stayed out. That was a little bit of instant karma evening things out quickly. Very strange in 10 minutes to see a goalie make no saves, and not really have a chance to do so.
- Tonight marked the third time this month Jarry has given up a goal in the first minute of the game (vs. Columbus and Dallas as well). He’s 3-0 in those games, and conceded 0, 0 and 1 goal against after that (with that goal coming tonight by Kreider late) and won all three games. For goalies sometimes the best attribute is shrugging it off and moving forward, and Jarry has really excelled in that aspect in a most impressive way. When it doesn’t start great, it hasn’t carried over at all.
- After playing Carolina last game, it was very interesting to contrast that by seeing how the Pens stacked up against another top Metropolitan team in the Rangers. (And will be doubly so useful, being as the Pens will play the Hurricanes on Thursday to quickly see that contrasting style again). NYR is a very fast team. They’re looking to counter on the rush, use their speed and skill - which is highly pops out from their top two lines. Carolina is more detailed - sealing up the boards on outlets, making every inch a battle, more intentional and direct. NYR uses more cross-ice or seam passes - less in control but more explosive. No right or wrong, a stretch of CAR-NYR-CAR really shows opposite ends of the spectrum for the how two teams can have an approach to things based on their differing talents and strengths.
- The Pens’ PK killed not one, not two but three penalties early in the game, each time while down 1-0. Situationally, that felt like a lasting memory to be a problem in last season’s playoff with a dangerous NYR power play picking their spots and making Pittsburgh pay. Didn’t happen in this one.
- This was a game you missed the energy of Li’l Josh Archibald flying around and throwing his body into the boards and other players on the forecheck. Shame he was too banged up to play tonight (though it doesn’t seem very serious), his absence was missed. Even though the PK was fine without him, this type of game against a physical division opponent was why the Pens wanted that type of element Archibald brings in the first place.
- At the same time, it was huge boost to get Zucker back. The Malkin line operates on a completely different and better level with him out there.
- Very nice to see Rust redeem himself for the glorious chance in front and not score by following up and scoring later from in front of the net. He’s chipped in some assists lately, but this was his first goal in six games. And just an eighth in 32 games so far this year, after playing at a full-season pace of 35 goals per season from 2019/20- 2021/22.
- Good night for a couple streaks to keep going: Malkin gets a point for a ninth straight game (3G+10A) and an eighth straight game for the Pens with a PPG.
- Pittsburgh puts a stop to a seven-game NYR winning streak. They were in top form, but New York fell short. Always good to beat a playoff-type team who is playing their best hockey of the season to this point, and that was the case tonight.
- Zibanejad was a man possessed in the last minute of the game. He’s so good when he’s on his game. Kreider scored twice. Artemi Panarin narrowly missed on a couple of shots. Trocheck is a good player but looked very dangerous in his first PIT/NYR game. Rangers/Penguins games are fun because the game swings both directions and each team has stars capable of totally taking the game over at times when they amp up the momentum. On this night, it was Crosby, Malkin, Rakell, Rust and Guentzel who found the net more, against quality goaltending at both ends. Next time? Well, it’s sure worth tuning in to find out.
A very satisfying win for the Pens, who at least temporarily leap frog the Rangers in the standings tonight as a result of this regulation win. Pittsburgh has one more to go before the break, and they’ll be looking to get some redemption over the team that just beat them last in Carolina at home on Thursday.