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Penguins cut down Rangers in shootout

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Wednesday night is Rivalry Night, and for once it actually looked like what was advertised as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the New York Rangers, 4-3, in a shootout after letting the Rangers back in the game in the third period. Things got a bit chippy late in the game, actually making the “Rivalry Night” promotion truthful.

The first period was a snoozefest, no other way to say it. Both sides had some scoring chances, but they were denied by the netminders. At 7:50, Philip Samuelsson was stopped by Henrik Lundqvist, while Marc-Andre Fleury answered the call on the other end against Dominic Moore about ten minutes later. Did you know that Philip Samuelsson is a son of Rangers assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson? Well, if you didn’t, you do now. The first period ended with zeroes on the scoreboard, and the Penguins leading in shots, 9-6.

Pittsburgh and New York woke up in the second frame. The Penguins lit the lamp first at 12:44. Thanks to a tripping call against Ryan McDonagh on Sidney Crosby, the Penguins got an opportunity on the power play, and Chris Kunitz cashed in. With forty-three seconds remaining, the Penguins started their attack at the top of the circles with Crosby playing catch with Matt Niskanen. Crosby then found Jussi Jokinen all alone between the circles, who quickly shoveled the puck to Kunitz. The initial shot was stopped by Lundqvist, but Kunitz kept hacking away and got the puck in the net for a Pittsburgh 1-0 lead. About three minutes later, the Rangers responded. In order to get the puck of his zone, John Moore chipped it to Carl Hagelin, and he was gone. The Swedish winger split Brian Dumoulin and Simon Despres, and backhanded the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury to tie the game at one. The teams went to the locker rooms still tied except at one, and the shots were tied at eleven.

If the Penguins and Rangers woke up in the second period, then they had twelve cups of coffee in the third period. About five and a half minutes into the period, Pascal Dupuis gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead after capitalizing on a terrific pass from Sidney Crosby. The Penguins weren’t willing to sit on a one-goal lead as Brandon Sutter took it upon himself to give his team a 3-1 lead about a minute later, making Michael Del Zotto look silly in the process. With the score now 3-1, and the game looking like it may slipping away, the Rangers stepped up. At 12:43, Mats Zuccarello brought New York within one when he found the puck sitting behind Fleury after a John Moore shot. Fleury had no idea that the puck was behind him, and Zach Sill failed to box out the smaller Zuccarello, who took advantage of all of that. About six minutes later, the Ranger got a power play due to Matt Niskanen getting called for hi-sticking Carl Hagelin. With a minute left on the man-advantage, Zuccarello set-up Benoit Pouliot for a one-timer that missed the net. However, Derick Brassard was sitting on the opposite side of the ice and was able to fire the puck into the net off a terrible angle to tie the game at three. The third period came to a close, and the game headed to overtime.

There was no scoring in overtime, but there was plenty of action. Fourteen seconds into the extra period, Chris Kunitz was called for goaltender interference after clipping Henrik Lundqvist. There wasn’t too much more Kunitz could’ve done to avoid contact as Lundqvist slid out of his crease and Kunitz made a move to avoid him, so moving on. So with a scoreless overtime, the game went to a shootout. The shootout went five rounds before Brandon Sutter ended the game to give the Penguins the extra point and the 4-3 victory.

The Penguins don’t get much time to rest up as they head back to Pittsburgh for a 7:00 pm/et (Root Sports, FS-N, NHL Network) meeting with the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night, the back-end of back-to-back games.

Notes:

-The young Penguins defensemen had a few problematic moments, but were still a strong unit overall.

-Another game, another career high ice-time time for Matt Niskanen. Niskanen logged 29:44 at MSG.

-Olli Maatta also notched a career-high in ice-time with 28:06. Nineteen-year old logging those kind of minutes. Man.

-Son bests father, Philip 1 Ulf 0.

Three stars:

1. PIT C Sidney Crosby (2A)

2. PIT LW Pascal Dupuis (1G)

3. NYR C Mats Zuccarello (1G, 1A)

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