Penguins Topple Mighty Rangers 4-1 – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Topple Mighty Rangers 4-1

It’s hard to believe that scarcely seven days ago observers (like me) were ready to shovel dirt on the Penguins following their sixth-straight loss. What a difference a week makes. In arguably their finest effort of the season, the piping-hot Pens rode the stellar goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury and another big-time performance by Evgeni Malkin to a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Determined to make a statement against the front-running Rangers, the visitors bolted from the starting gate like a pack of Kentucky Derby thoroughbreds. Just past the three-minute mark Paul Martin sailed down the slot and banged the puck off Henrik Lundqvist’s pads. Chris Kunitz pounced on the rebound and blew it past “King Henrik” for his first goal in eight games.

Buoyed by the return of star defenseman Kris Letang, the black and gold piled up an early 8-0 edge on the shot clock. However, the tide began to turn following a fight between Eric Tangradi and New York’s Stu Bickel. Soon the physical Rangers were imposing their will. Brandon Dubinsky made it his personal mission to rough up Malkin at every turn.

“The Rangers were coming at him in the first period,” Pens coach Dan Bylsma said. “You could tell that was something they were planning on doing. He stuck with it. He kept playing the right way.”

Nor was Fleury spared the Rangers’ wrath. After Brandon Prust drove the Pens’ goalie into the end boards, “Flower” responded with several big saves in the closing moments of the period to preserve the Pens’ 1-0 lead. But midway through the second period New York knotted the score on a goal by rookie Carl Hagelin.

Entering the final 20 minutes the contest was up for grabs. The Pens broke the deadlock at 2:23 on a beautiful bit of teamwork. Defenseman Matt Niskanen headmanned the puck up the right sideboards to Matt Cooke, who dished a pretty backhand pass to Deryk Engelland in the high slot. Known more for his fistic prowess than his playmaking, the rugged defender quickly fed Richard Park below the left circle. The little forward one-timed the puck past Lundqvist for the go-ahead goal.

Malkin made sure the Penguins didn’t squander their momentum. With seven minutes to play the mercurial Russian stole the puck from Marc Staal along the left-wing boards, sliced past Michael Del Zotto and whipped a backhander under the crossbar. After the Pens killed off a late hooking penalty to Niskanen, “Geno” drilled his 24th goal into an empty net.

“We deserved to win because we played better in the third period,” Malkin said. “We shoot more and we have scoring chances more. It’s a great feeling, but we play (Friday) and we need to play the same again.”

Ice Chips
Malkin was voted the No. 1 star … Geno (seven goals in four games) leads the NHL scoring race with 54 points … Fleury (30 saves) was named No. 2 star … The Penguins out-shot the Rangers 35-31 … Letang (an assist) earned the No. 3 star … Ben Lovejoy sat out to make room for “Tanger” … Park’s goal was the 99th of his NHL career … Arron Asham missed his second-straight game with concussion-like symptoms … Asham, Sidney Crosby, Simon Despres, Lovejoy, and Jordan Staal were scratches.

On Deck
The Penguins (25-17-4) return home to face Montreal (17-21-8) on Friday night. The Pens have beaten the Canadiens twice this season.

*Be sure to check out Rick’s new book, “100 Things Penguins Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die” at TriumphBooks.com. It features 296 pages of bios, stories, anecdotes and photos from the team’s colorful past in a compelling, easy-to-read style. Whether you’re a die-hard booster from the days of Jean Pronovost or a big fan of Sid and Geno, this book is a must have for any true Penguins fan.

Don’t forget to check out Rick’s first book, “Total Penguins,” at TriumphBooks.com. A complete and comprehensive book on the team’s rich and storied history, it’s filled with season-by-season summaries, player profiles and stats, bios on coaches, general managers and owners, photos from the “Post-Gazette” archives, and much, much more.

*Be sure to check out Rick Buker’s books,
available at TriumphBooks.com, Amazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com

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  1. TANGER58's Gravatar TANGER58
    January 20, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Lets keep Tangradi off the fighting role. : ) GO PENS!

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      January 20, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      Nice to hear from you, as always, Tanger … 🙂

      I didn’t actually see the fight. But judging from the reviews on Dropyourgloves.com it sounds like Bickel got the better of it.

      I think right now Tangradi’s trying to do anything he can to establish himself. But fighting’s not really his bag. I like the kid, but I’m not sure Bylsma does. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tangradi included in a trade deadline deal … 🙁

      I do think the Pens need another scrapper with Asham out–and possibly limited going forward (it’s his second concussion in two years). From a strictly fighting standpoint, I’d love to see the Pens try to get Micheal Haley from the Islanders. He’s a younger version of Asham … he can REALLY throw ’em.

      • Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
        January 20, 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        Agree with you totally on Tangradi and needing another scrapper. I understand he is trying to get a role, but that was the second fight I saw, when someone got the better of him. I had a lot of hope for him, when we signed Kunitz. So we will see. Glad to see the winning streak though.

        • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
          January 20, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

          Like you, I was really excited when we got Tangradi in the Kunitz-Whitney deal. Big power forward, great numbers in junior, what’s not to like, right?

          The rub–at least as I see it–is that he’s not a great skater. Mind you, I don’t think he’s a bad skater. In fact I think he shows decent speed at times for a big guy. And I like his instincts around the net and willingness to jam.

          But Bylsma really seems to prefer small speedy forwards. A glance at the Pens’ roster tells the story–Adams, Asham, Cooke, Dupuis, Kennedy, Kunitz, Park, Sullivan, Vitale (and Sid) are all built along the same lines and essentially play the same way.

          Not that I don’t like these guys. I do. They’re all good to great (Sid) players who work their tails off. But I think you need a blend of players with different styles and attributes (like Tangradi’s size) to win a Cup. I’m not sure Bylsma agrees.

    • ATIC's Gravatar ATIC
      January 20, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      Hopefully Tangradi learned that he needs to throw punches fast if he’s taking off the helmet. He looked like he’s was waiting for something while he kept getting hit. Engelland on the other waits until the other player tires himself out swinging at his helmet before he starts tossin haymakers around.


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