The Pittsburgh Penguins (32-14-8) ended their three-game skid and, more importantly, played their best game in weeks. They overcame a sluggish start, Sidney Crosby provided the spark, Evgeni Malkin the goal and goalie Tristan Jarry was spectacular as the Penguins beat the New York Rangers 1-0 at PPG Paints Arena.
Jarry stopped all 27 shots. His counterpart, Igor Shesterkin, was equally brilliant, almost. The Penguins re-claimed second place in the Metro Division, one point ahead of the Rangers with the win.
Goaltending stole the show until early in the third period. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was dominant and pesky throughout the game. He and Bryan Rust transitioned to offense, and Ranger defenseman Ryan Lindgren had a choice to hold Crosby or allow a possible tap-in goal. Lindgren chose the penalty.
After a couple of loose-puck wins, Rust zipped a pass through a seam to Evgeni Malkin inside the right-wing dot. Malkin (8) buried the one-timer to the far past Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin.
Jarry had to stop three odd-man rushes to preserve the scoreless tie. Jarry made four Grade A stops on the Rangers power-play midway through the third period, too.
As good as Shestetrkin was, Jarry was equal or better.
For most of the first period, the Penguins were on the wrong end of the puck. They were outshot 12-6. Only a late period rally made that number somewhat respectable. The Rangers got eight of the game’s first nine shots on goal. Tristan Jarry made several quality saves, and neither team lit the lamp.
However, according to NaturalStatTrick.com, the Penguins had three high-danger chances and the Rangers had only two.
The script flipped in the second period as Crosby stirred the pot. Crosby got involved physically, sometimes before the whistle, sometimes after it. Crosby raised the temperature of the game and gave the Penguins a jolt of energy.
The Penguins outshot the Rangers 11-5 in the second period. One shift stood out as Malkin joined Jake Guentzel and Crosby, or those two joined Malkin in a double shift. Either way, the Penguins had several chances on the singular shift, but Shesterkin proved his .940 save percentage isn’t a fluke.
Two players from each side had three shots after two periods, but no player had more. Danton Heinen and Jake Guentzel led the Penguins.
After 40 minutes, the shots were nearly equal, 17-15 in the Rangers’ favor.
Malkin and Kasperi Kapanen did not attempt a shot on goal in 40 minutes, but Malkin served a couple of scoring chances to Heinen. Malkin and New York forward Kevin Rooney had a little disagreement at the end of the first period. Both took minor penalties for their dealings. On the first shift for each in the second period, they did so again.
The game had a playoff-like feel. Three times the teams played 4v4 after coincidental minors from post-whistle scrums. The Penguins were the aggressors, perhaps testing the Rangers’ resolve.