The Pittsburgh Penguins scored the fastest three goals of any team in the NHL this season, including a dandy by Sidney Crosby. In this Penguins game, they didn’t relent or relax, and they beat the New York Rangers 5-1 at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday night.
The Penguins have won three of their last four. Their lone blemish was last Thursday when they scored three goals in 71 seconds against the Philadelphia Flyers but exhaled and lost 4-3. There was no such gaffe this time.
Casey DeSmith has won five of his seven starts this season. He stopped 23 of 24. Alexander Georgiev, who started both games of the back-to-back weekend, stopped three of six shots before New York head coach David Quinn gave him the hook in the first period for Keith Kincaid.
The East Division standings are now jumbled, but the Penguins are in the thick of the mess. The Penguins are two points ahead of Philadelphia, which has two games in hand. The Penguins are also tied with the Boston Bruins, who also have two in hand.
In the first period, the Penguins game had a strong opening with the Sidney Crosby line but quickly stumbled. On the second shift, both Jared McCann and defenseman Mike Matheson misplayed a puck on the wall. The resulting New York two-on-one finished in the back of the Penguins net when Mika Zibanejad wristed it over DeSmith’s glove. 1-0.
But then…all hell broke loose…again.
Just as last Thursday when the Penguins hung three on the Philadelphia Flyers in 71 seconds, the Penguins named that tune in only 61 seconds. In just over one minute, John Marino, Kasperi Kapanen, then Sidney Crosby lit the lamp.
As a Penguins power play expired, defenseman John Marino activated along the right wall. Marino’s (1) wrist shot slipped through traffic near the net and to the far post past Rangers goalie Alexander Georgiev. 1-1.
It was Marino’s first goal this season. And it was just the beginning of the ramp-up.
Just 39 seconds after that, the Penguins created a turnover at the defensive blue line. Two pressured chip passes later, Kasperi Kapanen had a breakaway. Kapanen (6) snapped it through Georgiev. 2-1.
And for the icing on the cake, the cherry on the sundae, the grand finale, Sidney Crosby (8) split two New York defensemen and ripped a shot to the far post. 3-1.
Anthony Angello drew into the lineup for Sam Lafferty, who was essentially benched on Saturday after a ghastly giveaway which led to a goal against. Angello played sparingly but dished five hits in about seven minutes of ice time.
It took a while to get to the Penguins game. They were outshot 11-6 in the period but led by two. According to PHN friend and Penguins historian Bob Grove, it was the first time the Penguins scored three goals in the first period against New York since Nov. 28, 2009.
The teams held serve in the second period, though Bryan Rust drew another penalty, and the Penguins peppered New York with six shots on two power plays.
Evgeni Malkin reaped the rewards of a strong game. Malkin (6) iced the game with six minutes remaining when he led a two-on-one break and finished with authority.
Zach Aston-Reese (5) also poked his own rebound past Kincaid with a few minutes remaining. It was Aston-Reese’s second goal in two games.
Officials had to separate Mark Jankowski and Rangers forward Phil Di Guiseppi at the final horn, but that only delayed the Penguins on-ice celebration.
Kapanen was the number one star with one goal and two assists. Malkin had one goal and one assist.
New York goalie Keith Kincaid was excellent in relief, including a couple of eye-popping saves, including taking away what seemed to be an empty net from Kasperi Kapanen. Kincaid stopped 16 of the 18 shots he faced, and the first 14.
Update: Jared McCann missed the final minutes of the second period and nearly all of the third period with what Sullivan termed a possible “upper-body injury.”