by Tony on 10/03/09 at 01:25 AM ET
The banner was raised, then it was time to start it all over again.
The Penguins capped off a tremendous night of Stanley Cup championship celebrations with a scrappy 3-2 win over the New York Rangers tonight at the Igloo.
Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Tyler Kennedy scored for the Pens, whiile Chris Drury and new Ranger Marian Gaborik scored for the Rangers.
It wasn’t the smoothest of games by any stretch of the imagination, as there weren’t many long stretches of open play without turnovers.
The Penguins rode the emotion of the Cup ceremony through the first half of the opening period, dominating the Rangers in just about every facet of the game. That resulted in the first goal of the game and season for the Penguins on the powerplay. Chris Kunitz attempted to center a pass towards Crosby heading to the goal but was deflected. Alex Goligoski was there to corral the rebound and softly feed the puck to Sergei Gonchar, who blasted a slapper from the right point. Malkin was right in front of Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist to deflect the puck past him and give the Penguins a 1-0 lead at the 7:48 mark.
But give the Rangers credit, that was the only blemish they gave up in that initial onslaught, and they played the Penguins even for most of the remainder of the night. They also took full advantage of a fortunate bounce to even the game at one goal apiece late in the first period. A Penguins clearing attempt hit one of the officials along the boards, where new Ranger Christopher Higgins gathered the loose puck for a quick centering pass to Drury, who deflected it past Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 1-1 at 16:01.
The Penguins regained the lead in the second period off a broken 3-on-1 break. Bill Guerin received a backhanded pass from Kunitz but was unable to put it on net on his backhand. However, Kris Letang was there behind the net to make a quick centering pass to Crosby in the crease for a tap-in goal to give the Pens a 2-1 lead.
Only 66 seconds later, Alex Goligoski fired a simple wrister from the right point that Tyler Kennedy barely deflected and got it past Lundqvist again to make it 3-1 Penguins.
The Rangers weren’t finished, though. At 5:56 of the third period, Brandon Dubinsky made a centering pass from the left boards that Fleury stopped, but left a big rebound that Gaborik wristed past him to cut the Pens’ lead to 3-2.
- If he stays healthy, Gaborik will be a big addition to the Rangers. Of course, that’s a BIG if.
- I counted four no-look passes that resulted in turnovers. Maybe it was playing at home, maybe it was the celebration night, but the Pens passed up quite a few shots getting a little too cute.
- Outside of the ceremony, it seemed to me that the crowd was relatively subdued. Just me ??
- One of the things I’m watching for is whether Ruslan Fedotenko starts connecting on feeds from Malkin. Well, count Ruslan as being 0-for-2. He had two nice feeds from Geno, but couldn’t connect on either.
- The opening ceremony was fantastic. Nice to see the huge reception for Max Talbot, besides the expected ones for Sid, Geno and MAF.
- Speaking of the ceremony, if you read this article this morning, you saw where Rangers coach John Tortorella said he was going to have the Rangers on the bench during the ceremony out of respect for the Cup. Well, I Tweeted this morning that I gave Torts props for that. I was then contacted by a Pens official asking where I heard that, because the Pens did NOT have the Rangers in the plans for the ceremony. Obviously, the Pens advised the Rangers during the day. So the reason why you didn’t see the Rangers was due to the Penguins’ plans.
- The Pens’ powerplay looked a little better, a little more movement than we’ve been accustomed to see. Curious why they had the lefty Goligoski on the left point of the #1 unit, though.
- Pens’ penalty kill picked up where they left off last season, killing all four Pens’ penalties.
- After the Pens won most of the faceoffs early, the teams finished even at 50%-50%.
- Kunitz led the Pens with 6 hits.
- Letang and Mark Eaton both led the Pens with 4 blocked shots.
The Pens have no time to rest on their opening night laurels. They’ll fly tonight to New York and face the Islanders on Saturday night.
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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.
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