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Penguins Report Card: Pushing Back, Fighting Back & Winning vs. Rangers (+)



Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang

The Pittsburgh Penguins got the short end of a non-call midway through the third period. Evgeni Malkin was knocked to the ice in the offensive zone well after playing the puck. The New York Rangers raced the length of the ice while Malkin lay on the ice and scored the tying goal.

The Penguins settled the game and had the better scoring chances later in the third period before beating the Rangers in overtime, 3-2, at PPG Paints Arena.

Get Dave Molinari’s Penguins postgame recap here.

Things got physical, but the Penguins held their own. They pushed back. Fought back. And won a playoff-style hockey game.

“This time of year shouldn’t be that tough (to be motivated),” Penguins winger Jason Zucker said. “Especially against these guys, any rival of ours, this is playoff hockey down the stretch no matter who we play now. And we’re looking forward to it.”

To further credit the Penguins, they also fought back without taking stupid penalties during a couple of physical confrontations, including Rangers’ defenseman Jacob Trouba’s thundering hit on Alex Nylander late in the second period (Evgeni Malkin took a cross-checking penalty in the post-hit scrum, but the Penguins bench didn’t mind at all).

“(The sticking up for each other) was great. I didn’t do much out there,” Zucker said as he downplayed his own contributions to the scrums. “The guys have been great. It’s a good game for us. Huge win. We’ve got to start getting some confidence building in here and keep pushing.”

Confidence should be growing. They are again the top wild card ahead of the New York Islanders (with two games in hand), have a nine-point lead on the Buffalo Sabres and at least a six lead on the Ottawa Senators, who face the Calgary Flames later Sunday night.

New York forechecked aggressively on Sunday, and the Penguins zoomed past. The Penguins played 40 minutes as well as they have played against a playoff-caliber opponent all season, equally well as they’ve played against the other New York team in each of the last three meetings. 

The Penguins lost those games to the Islanders but refused to do so against the Rangers and now trail them by just six points for third place.

The chalkboard is fun. As are some of the grades.

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