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The Confluence

Healthier Penguins pound Rangers, 8-3

I assume no one will question the use of “pound” tonight.

In the first of a home-and-home series, the Penguins took full advantage of the Rangers starting backup goalie Steve Valiquette vice Henrik Lundqvist, with Sidney Crosby scoring his 4th career hat trick and five points in a 8-3 win over the Rangers at the Igloo.

The win culminated a triple dose of good news the Pens received before the game, as defensemen Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski and forward Tyler Kennedy all returned to the lineup.  In addition to that, defenseman Jay McKee will probably return to Monday’s trip to Madison Square Garden.  That will leave Chris Kunitz as the only remaining Penguin left to return.

The Penguins only had 33 shots on net, an average amount, but Valiquette let in a couple of softies, as well as a couple of goals that were deflected in.

Having said all that, it was the Rangers who had the first tally of the game.  Rangers defenseman Marc Staal skated around a noticeably defensive rusty Goligoski and then went backhand to the top shelf past Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead at the 8:50 mark of the first period.

Later in the period, the Pens took advantage of a Rangers icing call to get their first line on the ice against the Rangers’ fourth line.  After retaining possession in the Rangers’ zone, Crosby was able to center the puck from behind the Rangers’ net to Evgeni Malkin, who was able to bang it past Valiquette to tie the game at 1-1.

Crosby followed that a few minutes later with a hard wrister to the top shelf past Valiquette to make it 2-1, then only 46 seconds later Crosby passed to Max Talbot, who went backhand to the five-hole and into the net to quickly make it 3-1.

The Rangers cut the lead 3-2 with about six minutes left in the second period on a wrister that got past Fleury, who lost his balance.

It looked like things were going to stay that way going into the third period, but as the clock wound down Mark Eaton quickly shot the puck from the left boards, rang off the right post and into the net with only .3 seconds left to extend the Penguins’ lead to two goals once again at 4-2.

The Rangers didn’t give up though, as former Pen Michal Rozsival scored on a wrister only 33 seconds into the third to cut the Pens’ lead to 4-3, but that was as close as they would get.

The Pens took advantage of a bad play behind the net by Valiquette, as Malkin stole the puck and unsuccessfully attempted to wraparound the puck into the net.  But the loose puck was grabbed by Crosby, who simply fired the puck at a sprawling Valiquette, deflecting it into the net for a 5-3 Pens’ lead.

Four minutes later, Pascal Dupuis launched a slapper from the far right boards that Valiquette couldn’t stop either, making it 6-3.

As things got chippy late in the game, the Penguins basically got powerplay time for the last half of the third period.  On the powerplay, Goligoski fired a nice cross-ice pass to Crosby, who gathered it in and fired a wrister past Valiquette for a 7-3 lead and the hat trick.  It couldn’t have come on a better night, as the “Hat Night” crowd threw probably 10,000 hats onto the ice (wild guess).

Tyler Kennedy topped off the scoring 15 seconds later when he deflected a Kris Letang slapper into the net for the final score of 8-3.

Notes:
- Monday’s rematch is sure to be one fine slobberknocker.
- The Rangers were not happy with Matt Cooke’s hit on Artem Anisimov, which knocked him doozy for a while.  Donald Brashear took a double minor attempting to get at Cooke, while Cooke and Ryan Callahan ended up fighting.
- The Penguins ended up going 2-for-7 on the powerplay, most of them coming after the game was no longer in doubt.
- Besides the hat trick and five points, Crosby was also 15-for-20 in the faceoff circle, and a team-high +4.
- 50 hits awarded for both teams, which seems a little conservative to me.  Brooks Orpik led the Pens with five, which as I said, seems light.
- Nice to see Crosby and Malkin lead the team in shots with five each, but also that Kennedy and Bill Guerin were next with four.

As mentioned, the Pens and Rangers now head back to New York for their rematch Monday night.

Filed in: , | The Confluence | Permalink
  Tags: new+york+rangers, nhl-hockey, pittsburgh+penguins

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About The Confluence

Welcome to The Confluence, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog since 2006.

Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.

I am blogger- credentialed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  My posts are regularly linked by hockey websites such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Yahoo!‘s Puck Daddy, and I’ve done numerous guest blogger spots on such websites asthe New YorkTimes.  I am a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer.

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