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Penguins Grades: ‘Tale of Two Games,’ Malkin & Crosby Spark Big Win (+)



Pittsburgh Penguins, Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin

Despite a lethargic start and slog into the second period, the Pittsburgh Penguins trailed by only one goal. Then the Penguins came to life like a snowman who found a top hat. Two power-play goals begot speed and more energy.

The Penguins rallied, both emotionally and on the scoreboard, to beat the New York Rangers 3-2 at PPG Paints Arena.

Get Dave Molinari’s Penguins recap here.

Sportsnet recently referred to the Metro Division as the “Division of Doom” because a very good team will likely miss the 2023 NHL playoffs. By Tuesday night, the places 2-4 in the Metro Division combined to win 24 of 28 games, with the only regulation losses to each other. Like New York’s, the Penguins’ win streak reached seven games.

The Carolina Hurricanes are 10-0-2.

The Penguins lost only one game in regulation (to Carolina on Sunday) and fell to fourth into the top wild-card spot.

In short, while it is only December, the division games already have significant implications.

And so when the Penguins give up a goal 22 seconds into the first period and don’t open the offensive zone, that’s bad news. After the first rush on the first shift, the Penguins failed to penetrate the scoring zones, and New York goalie Igor Shesterkin wasn’t tested.

The shots were only 8-7 after 20 minutes, but New York also hit a pair of posts. Vincent Trocheck and Jimmy Vesey rang the iron.

The Penguins’ slumber continued for most of the second period, and just when it was time to accept the Penguins were as flat as last week’s open pop cans (or soda, whichever you prefer), Evgeni Malkin and Jason Zucker fired the Penguins’ energy.

The packed house immediately launched “Igor-Igor” chants, and the Penguins’ energy grew. In the final five minutes of the second period, the Penguins dominated New York and put a pair of goals on the board.

A snoozer turned into the kind of Metro Division slobberknocker that makes the division the most interesting, if not the best, in hockey. Still, for as many good grades, the report card has a few “see me after class” type grades, too.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.