The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins battled it out in another playoff-like matchup, and the Rangers prevailed in the end once again. The Rangers scored three straight goals between the second and third periods, and took a 3-1 lead late into the game. A late power play goal by Sidney Crosby brought the Penguins back within the game, but the Rangers clamped things down in the closing minutes.
Brian Boyle (9) – Brian Dumoulin (14) & Kris Letang (50) – 14:24
Despite the Rangers controlling a good portion of the play early on in the game, it would be the Pittsburgh Penguins jumping out to an early 1-0 lead. Kris Letang was able to find Brian Dumoulin entering the offensive zone on the far side of the ice with a crisp pass. Dumoulin tossed an immediate shot on goal with traffic in front, and was able to get a deflection. Brian Boyle was the recipient after gaining body position at the top of the crease and got his stick on the puck as it came in on goal.
Frank Vatrano (15) – Mika Zibanejad (43) & Chris Kreider (19) – 13:32
The Rangers kept their pressure on in the offensive zone and were eventually rewarded for their hard work below the goal line. Chris Kreider was able to force a turnover with his stick, and caused a bit of confusion with the puck popping high up in the air. Mika Zibanejad read the puck the entire way and timed his pass perfectly right as the puck landed back on the ice. Frank Vatrano caught the slight layoff pass, and ripped home his 15th goal of the season through the legacy of Tristian Jarry.
Braden Schneider (2) – Artemiy Panarin (59) & Andrew Copp (27) – 17:04
Under four minutes later, the Rangers would jump out into the lead after converting on a 4-on-2 rush into the offensive zone. Andrew Copp led the initial rush as he carried the puck through the middle of the ice, and deferred to Artemiy Panarin as he crossed the blue line. Panarin pushed both defenders down low by slightly pulling up, and found Braden Schneider entering the play extremely late. Schneider was wide open with three Penguins caught back in the play, and he absolutely wired home a slap shot to give New York a 2-1 lead.
Chris Kreider (45) – Adam Fox (55) & Artemiy Panarin (60) PPG – 1:06
At the end of the second period, things got a little heated between Ryan Lindgren and Mike Matheson, and it resulted in a Rangers power play. Just 1:06 into the man-advantage, the power play specialist himself scored his 45th goal of the season to give the Rangers a two-goal lead. Adam Fox set up the entire play by pulling a defender towards him, and rather than risking the blocked shot, he put the puck off of the end boards. The puck bounced cleanly back out in front of the net where Chris Kreider was waiting, and he slammed home the easy rebound.
Sidney Crosby (25) – Evgeni Malkin (17) & Kris Letang (51) PPG – 10:37
After grabbing a 3-1 lead in the third period, the Rangers were playing extremely well on the defensive side of the puck. However, an ill-advised tripping penalty by Andrew Copp led to a Pittsburgh power play halfway through the period. Sidney Crosby was able to make the most of the opportunity, and wired a heavy slap shot from the top of the left faceoff circle. Igor Shesterkin never saw the puck with plenty of bodies in front of him, and the Rangers suddenly had themselves a game.
Thankfully, the Rangers were able to close this one out despite missing the empty net on three different occasions. Igor Shesterkin made one final key save in the closing seconds to deny Jake Guentzel in close, and gave the Rangers a huge regulation win. This win now pushes the Rangers up into second place in the Metropolitan division with a one point lead on the Penguins. Following tonight’s big win, the Rangers will be right back in action tomorrow night as they take on the Detroit Red Wings at 7:30 pm