|NYR||1||1||1||(0 - 0)||3|
|PIT||3||1||4||(0 - 0)||8|
• PHOTO GALLERY
• RANGERS GAME CENTER
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Sidney Crosby erupted for three goals and five points on Saturday night at Mellon Arena as the Pittsburgh Penguins handed the Rangers an 8-3 defeat to close out the Blueshirts’ three-game road trip. The Rangers will seek revenge for this loss when they host the Penguins at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.
Pittsburgh scored three goals in the first period, one with no time left on the clock in the second, and four more in the third period to beat the Rangers for the second time in as many meetings this season.
The Rangers entered the third period trailing 4-2, but Michal Rozsival gave the visitors life when he scored after only 33 seconds had elapsed on the clock. Rozsival’s first goal of the season came off a one-timer from right wing after some diligent work along the boards and a neat pass from Sean Avery.
However, the Rangers did not have much time to feel good about their situation. Although Christopher Higgins and P.A. Parenteau came close to scoring during a scramble moments after Rozsival’s goal, it was the Penguins who delivered a dagger through the Rangers’ hearts at 3:14.
Crosby potted his second goal of the game after a misplay by the Rangers behind their own net. Crosby finished the play by banking a left-wing shot off Rangers goalie Steve Valiquette and over the goal line.
Pascal Dupuis scored at 7:20 to up the Penguins lead to 6-3, and Crosby finished off his Hat Trick at 11:29 with a power play goal against the beleaguered Valiquette.
There was a baseball cap giveaway on Saturday night at Mellon Arena, and the ice was flooded in a sea of white Penguins hats after Crosby had completed the fourth Hat Trick of his career.
Moments after the caps were cleaned off the ice, Tyler Kennedy scored another power-play goal to give Pittsburgh an 8-3 lead.
The Rangers had found a way to battle back into the game after falling behind 3-1 by the first intermission. But a rare NHL buzzer-beater at the end of the second period, scored by Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton proved too much for the Rangers to overcome.
Matt Gilroy had beaten Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with a wrist shot through Avery’s screen in front at 14:33 of the second to cut the Rangers’ deficit to one goal, and it seemed as though the visitors were going to start play in the final period feeling good about their chances, trailing only 3-2.
But the Penguins continued to play hard until the final buzzer of the middle stanza, and because of that, they were able to restore their two-goal lead and completely change the tone of the game heading into the third period.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik, who is not known for his offensive prowess, aggressively carried the puck on left wing into the Rangers’ zone in the waning seconds of the middle period, wristing an in-tight shot on goal that was denied by Valiquette. Craig Adams jumped on the rebound, but his shot missed the mark and caromed out to left wing. Eaton collected the puck there and wristed a shot that somehow eluded Valiquette to the glove side with the clock showing 00.0.
Video review confirmed that the puck crossed the goal line with three-tenths of a second remaining on the clock, and the goal stood, handing the Penguins a crucial 4-2 lead.
Eaton’s goal was crushing to a Rangers team that had played a very strong middle 20 minutes. Although they only managed six shots in the second period, the Rangers battle level and decision making were both much better than in the opening 20 minutes. And Gilroy’s goal, set up beautifully by a patient Vinny Prospal who had carried the puck from left wing around the net and out to right wing before making the pass, had given the Rangers renewed life and high hopes of a comeback against a Penguins squad that had blown a third period lead in a 3-2 loss to the Islanders on Friday.
The Rangers had actually scored the first goal of the game, before seeing their lead disappear in a span of 3:52 late in the first period.
Marc Staal skated into a soft lead pass from Chris Drury, carried the puck on left wing, drove hard to the net around defenseman Alex Goligoski, and lifted an in-close backhander past Fleury at 8:50. Staal’s third goal of the season provided the Rangers an important early lead, less than 24 hours after Friday’s 5-1 loss in Tampa to the Lightning.
However, with Crosby playing a big role in all three goals, the Penguins scored three times over 3:52 beginning at 14:37 of the first period to secure a 3-1 advantage.
Crosby slid a pass from behind the goal line into the crease where Evgeni Malkin tapped it past Valiquette for his eighth goal, tying the game 1-1. An icing against the Rangers prior to the goal left the visitor’s tired fourth line on the ice against the fresh top unit of the Penguins, a matchup that Pittsburgh took advantage of.
The Penguins grabbed their first lead of the night at 17:43 when Crosby scored his first goal of the night, ripping a shot from between the circles high stick-side on Valiquette after the Pens captain had kept the puck in along the Rangers’ blueline.
Forty-six seconds later, Max Talbot accepted a Crosby pass from the right-wing boards, skated behind the Rangers defense, and slipped a shot between Valiquette’s pads to finish off a dizzying stretch of play for the Rangers.
An important subplot to the game took place in the third period when Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke delivered a high blindside hit to the head of Rangers center Artem Anisimov at 7:39. Cooke was penalized for interference, and a shaky Anisimov did not return to the game.
When the Rangers sought retribution, the linesman stepped in to stop Donald Brashear who attempted to engage Cooke in a fight at 10:16. Brashear earned a double minor for roughing, and the Penguins scored on both ends of the power play to put the game away.
At 12:02 Ryan Callahan and Cooke were allowed to drop the gloves and take part in a spirited fight which resulted in 15 minutes worth of penalties for both players.
With a rematch in store Monday night at The Garden, the Rangers and Penguins both must expect an extremely intense battle on their respective hands. History is in the Rangers’ corner for the rematch, because the Blueshirts have beaten the Pens in eight straight regular-season games at MSG, dating back to the last Pittsburgh victory there on March 1, 2007.
|Marc Staal (3) Backhand shot - ASST: Chris Drury (6), Ales Kotalik (12)|
1 - 0 NYR
|Evgeni Malkin (8) Wrist shot - ASST: Sidney Crosby (14), Bill Guerin (10)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Sidney Crosby (13) Wrist shot - ASST: Alex Goligoski (9)|
2 - 1 PIT
|Maxime Talbot (1) Backhand shot - ASST: Sidney Crosby (15), Kris Letang (7)|
3 - 1 PIT
|Matt Gilroy (4) Wrist shot - ASST: Vinny Prospal (19), Marian Gaborik (15)|
3 - 2 PIT
|Mark Eaton (3) Wrist shot - ASST: Craig Adams (6), Brooks Orpik (8)|
4 - 2 PIT
|Michal Rozsival (1) Snap shot - ASST: Marian Gaborik (16), Sean Avery (7)|
4 - 3 PIT
|Sidney Crosby (14) Wrist shot - ASST: Evgeni Malkin (17)|
5 - 3 PIT
|Pascal Dupuis (7) Slapshot - ASST: Brooks Orpik (9), Sergei Gonchar (8)|
6 - 3 PIT
|PPG - Sidney Crosby (15) Wrist shot - ASST: Alex Goligoski (10), Sergei Gonchar (9)|
7 - 3 PIT
|PPG - Tyler Kennedy (6) Tip-in - ASST: Kris Letang (8), Ruslan Fedotenko (6)|
8 - 3 PIT
|Mark Eaton Holding the stick against Chris Drury|
|Sean Avery Interference on goalkeeper against Marc-Andre Fleury|
|Bill Guerin Hooking against Michal Rozsival|
|Vinny Prospal Hi-sticking against Sergei Gonchar|
|Michael Del Zotto Slashing against Kris Letang|
|Matt Cooke Interference against Artem Anisimov|
|Donald Brashear Roughing against Matt Cooke|
|Donald Brashear Roughing against Matt Cooke|
|Ryan Callahan Fighting (maj) against Matt Cooke|
|Matt Cooke Fighting (maj) against Ryan Callahan|
|Ryan Callahan Misconduct (10 min)|
|Matt Cooke Misconduct (10 min)|
|Sean Avery Fighting (maj) against Ruslan Fedotenko|
|Sean Avery Instigator against Ruslan Fedotenko|
|Sean Avery Misconduct (10 min)|
|SA: 33||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 25||EV: 18 - 24|
|PIM: 0||PP: 7 - 9|
|SV%: .758||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 25||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 22||EV: 18 - 21|
|PIM: 0||PP: 3 - 3|
|SV%: .880||SH: 1 - 1|