The Pittsburgh Penguins erased any stench of their two-game losing streak and accompanying awful team defense in the first minutes of their rematch against the New York Rangers. The Penguins made simple plays to work low in the New York zone and dominated the first 20 minutes. From there, the Penguins owned the game and cruised to a 5-2 win over New York at Madison Square Garden.
The Penguins’ goals came from the supporting cast, and Tristan Jarry overcame a poor outing on Tuesday, which lasted just 20 minutes to stop 22 of 24 shots and a penalty shot by Chris Kreider late in the second period.
Though Jarry had some stickhandling adventures, which head coach Mike Sullivan addressed. We’ll get back to those in the Report Card.
Radim Zohorna had two points, including another goal. Six minutes into the first period, Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson sprung the 6-foot-6 Zohorna on a breakaway. The Czech-born Zohorna (2) used his big frame to shield the puck as he streaked past countryman Libor Hajek and drag the puck around New York goalie Igor Shesterkin.
“We’ve really liked what we’ve seen from ‘Z’ from the minute he’s been in training camp,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “We’re really intrigued by his game.”
Two minutes into the second period, New York tied the game, but the Penguins quickly responded.
Colin Blackwell (11) scored a power-play goal, the fourth PP-goal allowed in New York, but Kris Letang (7) scored 81 seconds later to reclaim the Penguins lead.
Letang’s shot from the right-wing circle was deflected by Rangers’ defensemen near the net and slid past Shesterkin.
Zohorna teamed with Evan Rodrigues for a Penguins power-play goal midway through the second period. Zohorna used his reach to pull the puck away from defenders near the net, then quickly feed Rodrigues in the slot. Rodrigues (5) easily snapped it into the net for a 3-1 lead.
That was the game-winner, but the Penguins added a couple more goals, too.
Jason Zucker and Rodrigues connected midway through the third period. Zucker’s (6) offspeed backhand had Shesterkin moving, and the five-hole was wide open. 4-1.
“I think just a lot of talk (between us). Every time we come off the ice, we’re trying to pick out what we could have done better, where we’re going to be on the ice,” Rodrigues said. “And when you kind of know where your teammates are looking, you can make plays quicker and have more chemistry.”
New York defenseman Adam Fox extended his scoring streak to 12 games with his 19th assist in that time when he set up Kevin Rooney (6) for a power-play goal later in the third period, but Mark Jankowski (4) buried the empty netter.
Sam Lafferty also fought New York defenseman, Brendan Smith.