Two days after being downed 6 to 1 by the New York Rangers, the Pittsburhg Penguins were looking to rebound with a win of their own. After having gone 15 and 0 in the month of March, the Pens had dropped their first two of April. While not in any real jeopardy of missing the playoffs with less than ten games less to go in the regular season, there was no doubt that Pittsburgh was looking to notch another “W” – if for nothing more than to quiet the critics who have started to henpeck in the wake of the aforementioned losses and a growing list of injured players.
The first period some physical play. John Moore tried to hit Brenden Morrow behind the net but that resulted with Moore landing on his back. Halfway through the periods, Ryane Clowe and and Deryk Engelland would exchange fisticuffs, earning each of them a five minute vacation in the penalty box. Marc-Andre Fleury was called up on and made some magnificent back-to-back saves on Anton Stralman and Rick Nash. Pascal Dupuis followed with his own opportunity, but the puck would trickle through the crease. Neither team could capitalize through the first twenty, shots in favour of the Rangers 13 to 11.
The Rangers would continue to test Fleury, the Pens net-minder coming up strong. The game would settle into a semblance of regular back-and-forth play. Before the period expired, Fleury lost his glove but continued to play on. After forty, the game remained tied at zero apiece.
The third period – well – the third period saw a flurry of activity, not all of it good. Just thirty seconds into the period, Jussi Jokinen, acquired by Pittsburgh during Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, notched the lone regulation goal for Pittsburgh for the evening. Chris Kunitz started the play from behind the net, finding Jokinen in the circle where he was able to get a quick snap shot off to beat Lundqvist. Derek Stepan attemped to tie it up, but was denied by Fleury. The final ten minutes of the period were a whirl wind of activity. With just over ten minutes left to go in regulation, Brooks Orpik went down behind the net. He got himself up and went down the runway but returned shortly thereafter. With 9:45 left in the game, Brian Boyle checked Chris Kunitz from behind. Kunitz headed to the bench, Boyle to the box. Following this, James Neal went down for the second time in the period, this time the result of a Michael Del Zotto elbow to the head. Neal, when he did get up, headed down the runway and did not return to the game. (Following the game, there was no news to be had in regards to his injury.) Matt Cooke and Rick Nash would exchange words by the Rangers bench – Nash being on the bench. And all of this before the Boyle penalty expired. Pascal Dupuis was called for an unsportsmanlike after taking liberties with 6:51 left on the clock. The Rangers came close to tying it up, but a luge-like save from Fleury denied them, if only momentarily. The Ranges did tie it up, the goal courtesy of Rick Nash with 4:40 remaining in regulation. Boyle, with a breakaway, could have won it for the Rangers but he couldn’t beat Fleury, and, after sixty minutes and two goals, the game was headed to overtime.
Both goalies were tested throughout the OT period, both coming up with a couple big saves. As such, a shootout was needed to decide the fate of this one. The only one who would capitalize would be Jussi Jokinen. So, with his second of the night, the newest kid in town would earn the “W” for the Pens, giving them the two points and giving them yet another day to sit atop the Eastern Conference Standings.
Brooks Orpik led all skaters with 27:02 of ice time while Matt Niskanen followed with 25:58. Pascal Dupuis had 6 shots on goal, while Tyler Kennedy had 4. Jussi Jokinen earned a goal on his only shot of the game (aside from the shootout, of course.)
The Penguins continue to be without a number of key members of the team. James Neal, as mentioned, may soon be added to that list although Kris Letang, with any luck, should return to the lineup soon.
The Penguins will enjoy three days of rest before they hit the road to take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Game time is 7:00pm.