The injury-riddled Penguins entered the game riding a four-game losing streak. With only six games left in the regular season, the defending Stanley Cup champs were looking to gain some momentum when they traveled to New York to face off against the rival Rangers.
The game was a back-and-forth contest that needed a shootout to determine the winner. With a big game from NHL’s leading goal-scorer, Sidney Crosby, and a stellar performance from goaltender Matt Murray, the Pens beat the Rangers 4-3 in a shootout.
The first 10 minutes of the game was dominated by New York as the Rangers offense started off fast, out-shooting the Pens 7-1 and getting ample opportunities on Murray. The Penguins’ goaltender was tested early, but stood tall through the first half of the period.
After a television timeout, the momentum switched to the Penguins. The Pens offense started to pick up after Conor Sheary and Crosby had multiple opportunities on Rangers’ goalie Henrik Lundqvist who, like Murray, was tested. “The King” lived up to his nickname after he robbed shots by Crosby and Sheary while sitting down to keep the game tied after one period. Pittsburgh ended up out-shooting the Rangers 15-8 in the period.
Pittsburgh’s offense carried their momentum into the start of the second. Less than a minute into the frame, the Pens finally broke through Lundqvist when Jake Guentzel scored on a pass from Crosby as the power play expired. With the assist, Crosby passed Jaromir Jagr for second all-time in Penguins history for assists.
Right after the goal, Crosby had an opportunity to increase the lead, but he hit the top of the post. The Rangers answered with a scoring chance of their own but Murray made a stop on Chris Kreider in front of the net. Minutes later, Murray made another spectacular save laying down after he was knocked over by his own teammate.
With 9:14 left to play in the second, Crosby had another opportunity that he did not miss. The Pens’ captain took a shot from the side of the cage and off the Rangers’ goaltenders’ mask to increase the Pens lead to 2-0. The Pens and Rangers exchanged chances the rest of the period, but no one could capitalize until Mark Streit was sent to the box for tripping. With 26 seconds left in the period, Nick Holden scored on the power play to make it 2-1 after the second.
After multiple chances, the Pens added to their lead when Bryan Rust scored with 13 minutes left in the game to make it 3-1. Even though Pittsburgh controlled the offensive zone, the Rangers climbed back into the game two minutes later on a goal by Rick Nash. The pass from J.T Miller was deflected and Nash found the bouncing puck to make it a 3-2 game.
The teams both got some great chances the rest of the third, but the goalies were standing tall. At one end, Sheary had a break-a-way that was stopped by Lundqvist, while at the other end, Miller’s shot was stopped by Murray and cleared out of the crease by Chad Ruhwedel. The Rangers tied the game with a late goal by Kreider to force overtime.
Both teams had chances in the extra period, but the goalies stood on their heads. The Penguins best chance happened early on, when Guentzel crashed into Lundqvist on a break-a-way, but was denied. The Rangers got a 3-on-0 chance after Crosby turned the puck over, but Murray robbed Michael Grabner with his glove.
The game headed into a shootout. Crosby and Phil Kessel scored, while Murray stopped a pair shots by New York to give the Pens the win.
Murray finished the game with 32 saves and a .914 save percentage. The win takes the Penguins to 47-19-11 on the season. Pittsburgh still trails the Columbus Blue Jackets by one point for second the in the division.
The Penguins look to keep the momentum when they face the Carolina Hurricanes at home on Sunday.