Coming into Tuesday, the previous 120 minutes of offensive ice time for the Penguins yielded just one goal.
With speed, quick puck handling and the law of averages on their side, Pittsburgh (21-7-5) turned things around in a hyperbolic manner, taking the New York Rangers (23-11-1) to the woodshed in a 7-2 home thumping at the paint can.
Back to their old, pesky ways, the Pens terrorized its opponent in the 3rd period, punching in four goals with four different players tickling the twine, including a vicious fake-and-dish from Evgeni Malkin to Justin Schultz (9) for the backdoor finish that opened the scoring in the period.
The Pens pasted 47 shots on backup goalie Antti Raanta.
“I thought it was one of our more complete games,” said Coach Mike Sullivan. “We came out with a lot of energy and we had a great start. I thought our 1st period was really strong. Our power play scored for us early, and when our power play is at success it helps our 5 on 5 game.”
The Penguins punched in three goals on four power play chances, including the opening goal where Sidney Crosby, using his omnipresence deflected an Ian Cole one-timer to open the scoring.
Crosby scored his league-leading 22nd goal on the night, finishing +1 with 18:44 of ice time.
“We had some great momentum, especially early,” said Crosby. “We did a good job of staying patient and capitalizing on our chances.”
“That was a product of our game tonight, everybody chipping in,” 87 continued. “Some nights you have guys who are on, and tonight everybody was involved in creating things. Everybody played really well.”
The Penguins, who are still without injured defensemen Kris Letang and Trevor Daley received a staunch effort from the blue line, where Schultz and company spearheaded the task of killing all three NY power plays, while helping goalie Matt Murray, who had to face just 28 shots on goal.
“They are tough guys to replace. Those guys play such important minutes for us on both ends of the rink,” said Sullivan about replacing Tanger and Daley. “We’re trying to replace them by committee, and the guys that we have in there right now are doing a terrific job. Guys like Justin Schultz, who has done a great job stepping into that first line for us.”
Schultz finished +3 on the night with his one goal, and one assist in 15:53 of ice time.
“We moved the puck around pretty well the last two games. We took advantage of situations and capitalized on big moments tonight. Everybody in this (locker) room stepped up tonight.”
In total seven guys finished with multiple points on the night, including Nick Bonino, who smacked in his sixth goal of the season, and Bryan Rust who found his ninth of the season.
“This is hockey, sometimes you score a lot, and sometimes things aren’t going really well. It’s not like every game we are going to score 6 or 7 goals,” said a pragmatic Geno who scored his 14th goal of the season, while also tallying up his 22nd assist. “With different players and different lines, sometimes it’s easier to win.”
Seven different players scored all seven goals for the Pens tonight, marking the first time this season that has happened. Included in the cavalcade of finishers was Phil Kessel, who knocked in his 11th of the season.
Power Play Slayers
Carving up all three of New York’s power play opportunities Tuesday night, the Pens have now killed off 15 straight power plays, marking a season-best stretch.
Despite its recent success, the Pens still stand at the bottom of the league on the PK, standing 24th overall at a 78.6% success rate, allowing a league 3rd worst 24 goals on the season.
After the Moneyline
The Penguins win as -165 favorites, also covering the -1.5 (+190) puck line. With the total set at 5.5 for Tuesday night’s game, Pittsburgh has gone over for the first time since totaling just one goal in two combined games vs. LA and @ Toronto.
The Penguins will look to start another win-streak when they host New Jersey at PPG Paints Arena on Friday, Dec. 23. Puck is set to drop at 7 PM.