The New York Rangers must have felt good about their chances. They scored first despite the Pittsburgh Penguins’ domination. They escaped the first period tied and had a power play early in the second period. The Penguins began to get loose and gave New York a chance, then the Penguins (15-9-1) snatched it away.
The Penguins have won four out of five and three in a row as chants of “Jarry” rained down in the final two minutes after the Penguins goalie literally snatched away New York’s golden opportunities to tie the game.
“We just got on our heels a little bit. Give the Rangers credit,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. “They pushed hard in the third period and they carried the play for a lot of the third period.”
But Jarry saved the day. We’ll get to that below.
The Penguins game-winner came with All-Star game-like passing. No kidding, the Penguins had 22 consecutive touches. In the final minute of the second period, all five Penguins touched the puck multiple times. LW Evan Rodrigues dove to keep the possession alive. Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang worked give-and-goes. Kasperi Kapanen joined the fun.
With 20 seconds left in the period, Malkin led Kapanen into the slot. Kapanen toe-dragged the puck around Ranger defenseman Adam Fox and roofed the wrister.
That was the Penguins’ third goal, and it must have signaled to New York it was not to be their night. Though the Rangers brought the house in the third period.
Malkin, Letang, Kasperi Kapanen, Brian Dumoulin, and Rodrigues all touched the puck without the Rangers so much as getting a sniff. As the 2800 fans grew worried and the scoreboard clock ticked down, murmurs of “shoot” could be heard.
And then, bang.
Penguins First Period
The Penguins were dominating the shot clock and puck possession in the first period. The shots were 11-2 through the first 10 minutes, but New York scored first, and it was a name all too familiar with Penguins fans. (Trigger Warning) New York defenseman Jack Johnson’s (1) wrist shot from the blue line caromed off John Marino near the net and behind goalie Tristan Jarry. 1-0.
The Penguins have earned points in 12 of their last 13 games against New York (9-1-3) and seven straight home games.
The Penguins continued their attack after the New York goal. Sidney Crosby disrupted a New York breakout in the final seconds of the first period but couldn’t get possession. As New York regrouped, Crosby charged and intercepted the next pass in the Rangers’ zone.
Crosby slipped a cross-ice pass to a wide-open Jake Guentzel (8), who ripped it past New York goalie Keith Kincaid. 1-1.
Jarry has won eight of his previous 11 games since a week-long reset dictated by a small COVID outbreak amongst a couple of opponents.
The Penguins earned a shortie early in the second period. Kris Letang swiped the puck at center ice while going for a change. That set in motion four passes ended when Brandon Tanev fed a streaking Teddy Blueger (he had his clothes on, there was no Ned Braden action).
Blueger (5) cut the to the net and sneaked his backhand through Kincaid’s wickets. 2-1.
Then came the ridiculous goal. We’ll break it down later. The Pittsburgh Penguins connected 21 times before Kapanen scored on the 22nd touch. Cat meets ball of yarn. 3-1.
The play was set up by an Evgeni Malkin forecheck, and things snowballed. And snowballed. We put the full sequence and Kapanen goal here.
Pittsburgh Penguins Third Period
The Penguins didn’t close out New York as they should have. The Rangers had the better of play in the third period, but the Penguins were good enough defensively. Barely.
New York outshot the Penguins 15-1 in the third period.
New York scored a power-play goal quickly off the faceoff early in the third period. After Crosby took his second minor of the game, New York won the faceoff, then Ryan Strome’s (9) centering pass deflected off John Marino’s skate past Jarry.
Jarry made a pair of spectacular saves in the final two minutes.
“He was solid in the third, I don’t think we had our best period in the third, and he made some big saves for us, in particular in the last two and a half minutes of the game,” Mike Sullivan said. “He made some real big saves that probably earned us an extra point.”
Sidney Crosby (9) scored the empty goal.
Pittsburgh Penguins BULLET POINTS:
- Malkin again earned a gold star. He was appropriately aggressive, and his line danced with the puck. Yep, he and Kapanen each had two giveaways. Those things happen when you’re holding on to the puck, deep in the zone.
- Brian Dumoulin is the rug that brings the room together. With Letang, Dumoulin allows the other pairings to be balanced without losing a d-man to Letang’s side-saddle.
- Jarry wasn’t sharp, but he was good, then brilliant in the third period.
- New York’s speed is impressive. They can skate with the Penguins, but they lack something. The Penguins were able to cycle hard in the corners, and New York couldn’t muscle in on the Penguins.
- The Penguins got away from their simple, speedy breakouts in the second period and the long passes started. The game showed that as the Penguins stopped dominating the puck.