Thursday, March 3, 2016

No Rangers needed in Pittsburgh

By: MF, 

Tonight the Pittsburgh Penguins are ready to host the New York Rangers at Consol Energy Center. However, before we dive into the pregame stats and looks, we are going to touch on the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

The World Cup of Hockey is set to commence on September 17 in Toronto, Ontario and will be an eight-team competition. The Pittsburgh Penguins and city will be well represented that the tournament as four Penguins, three Pittsburgh area players, and Head Coach Mike Sullivan will have roles in the tournament. The four Penguins, included Sidney Crosby (Canada), Evgeni Malkin (Russia), Olli Maatta (Finland), and Matt Murray (North America).

Before the competition officially begins, an exhibition doubleheader will be held at Consol Energy Center on September 14. The marquee matchup will be at 7:30 p.m. as rivals Canada and Russia faceoff. It will be the first time that Crosby and Malkin have faced each other since May 2015 in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship’s gold medal game. Team Canada ended up winning that game, and Crosby became the 26th player joined the illustrious Triple Gold Club, which is made up of players that have won a Stanley Cup, Olympic, and World Championship gold medal.

It is great to see the players on the Penguins getting awarded at all levels for their efforts. It will be an exciting tournament.

Now onto the game at hand tonight. The Penguins are coming off a hard 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals and are looking to put a few wins together while also gaining some precious points as the playoffs near.

During the morning skate, the Penguins had a new addition join them as Justin Schultz was able to finally join a team skate. He was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers for a 2016 third-round draft pick. He did not arrive in Pittsburgh until Wednesday due to immigration protocol. He will not be in the lineup tonight as Coach Sullivan stated that he wants Schultz to get more practice with the team. His speed with be a perfect fit for Sullivan’s system and I look forward to seeing how he does.

Now is the critical time for the Penguins and they are getting good production. Patric Hornqvist has three goals, nine assists, and 12 points in his last 10 games, including his first career hat trick (February 29). He also is riding a three-game point streak, where he has notched four goals and two assists. In addition, Phil Kessel has five goals, seven assists, and 12 points in nine of his last 11 home games. Kessel has also reached the 200 shot mark for the eighth time (10 seasons).

They are also getting spectacular performance from their netminders. Matt Murray was on point during the Washington Capitals game, giving the Penguins a chance to win. Marc-Andre Fleury is 11-3-1 in his last 15 starts, where he has earned three shutouts. Fleury leads all goaltenders in home wins since January 1st with 10 wins out of 12 starts. Braden Holtby and Lundqvist come in second with eight wins in 10 starts.

The Penguins will have to focus on getting shots on net and making sure to shake up Henrik Lundqvist. In recent games, the Rangers have dominant defensively, and Lundqvist is the huge reason for that. Lundqvist shutout the Penguins last game (February 10) with a 34-save performance. However, Carl Hagelin says that they cannot focus on him. They need to focus on their game and not let him get the better of them. In their last 15 home starts, the Penguins are 11-2-2. They are 7-2-1 this season when they dawn their third jerseys. Lets Go Pens!

The Pens lineup is as follows:

Kunitz - Crosby - Hornqvist
Hagelin - Malkin - Kessel 
Wilson - Bonino - Rust
Kuhnhackl -  Cullen - Porter

Maatta - Letang
Dumoulin - Daley
Pouliot - Cole

Fleury in the net! 

Play by Play
PENS 4 Rangers 1

3rd Period

2:04 - KESSEL SCORES AN EMPTY NETTER! The play is broken up for the Rangers sending Malkin and Kessel to the empty net! Kessel goes to Malkin, but Malkin gives it back! Kessel puts it in! 4-1 Pens

2:41 - Lundqvist heads the bench and the Rangers have an empty net.

3:06 - The Rangers are putting in the effort and time right now, but the Pens have been able to stop them.

5:07 - Malkin and Kuhnhackl get a 2 on 1 chance. Malkin tries to make a pass over, but it's broken up.

6:04 - Cullen and Rust get a 2 on 1 rush. Cullen passes over to Rust, but Lundqvist is square to the shot and holds for the whistle.

6:27 - It has been a good defensive game for the Pens as they have held guys like Eric Staal quite throughout this game.

8:16 - Crosby makes a cross-ice pass in front of Lundqvist, but Letang is unable to get a stick on the pass.

9:13 - The Pens have been content to clear the puck and then make a change without really taking an offensive approach. They are waiting for the Rangers to mess up, but it leaves him open to take a defensive zone penalty.

11:36 - Cullen sets up Bonino in front, but he shoots the puck over the net.

14:04 - Rangers are getting some good zone time. The Pens need to stop protecting their lead and giving the Rangers the blue line. They need to keep pressuring.

16:27 - Another good start for both teams. Fleury has been tested early as the Rangers look to start a comeback.

20:00 - Time for the third period! The Pens have to keep their foot on the gas pedal, stay focused, and be physical! Lets Go Pens!

2nd Period
0:00 - The second period horn sounds and the Pens explode to take the 3-1 lead over the Rangers!

0:34 - HORNQVIST SCORES ON THE POWER PLAY! Kessel rifles one and Hornqvist gets the redirect up front to put it past Lundqvist! 3-1 Pens

1:17 - Now Yandle will visit the box for interference as the Pens get a power play just as the momentum has swung in their way!

1:52 - MALKIN SCORES! Malkin dances at the blue line for a bit and leaves the puck for Daley at the point! He fires Daley's rebound shot behind the body and blocker arm of Lundqvist! 2-1 Pens

2:13 - CROSBY SCORES! Crosby puts the puck on net and it goes under the pads of Lundqvist! Crosby taps it as he goes behind the net to put the puck over the goal line! 1-1 tie game

3:10 - Kreider Scores. The Pens are in the mist of a change. Zuccarello receives a snap pass to enter the Pens zone and passes over to a wide open Kreider puts it short side. 1-0 Rangers

3:15 - Successful kill for the Pens. Fleury held strong on that penalty kill. He is getting a work-out tonight.

5:15 - Another power play opportunity for the Rangers as Crosby finds himself in the box for holding. Big penalty kill for the Pens in this scoreless game.

6:05 - Dumoulin ends up being the only guy back as the Rangers get a 2 on 1 chance, but he lays down to block the shot/pass.

7:55 - Fleury makes a great save on the short-side as the Rangers tried to full him with a fake pass.

8:32 - Kessel and Dumoulion get a chance in front, but Lundqvist seems to get a piece as the puck ends up in the corner.

9:53 - Lundqvist gets a bump behind the net by Malkin as he plays the puck and his is once again not happy.

11:43 - Now the Rangers will get their first power play chance of the game for 1:09.

12:34 - Kessel is called for slashing, so we will have some 4 on 4 hockey for 51 seconds.

13:43 - After Lundqvist is shaken up by his own man. Lundqvist knocks the net over on purpose and he will get a penalty. The Pens head onto the power play.

15:25 - The Rangers are testing Fleury and he is passing with flying colors!

20:00 - Puck drop on the second period! The Pens have to get bodies in front of Lundqvist and generate some second chances to pounce on! Lets Go Pens!

1st Period
0:00 - First period ends and this game is scoreless.

2:05 - Porter goes down hard at the corner boards with some help from a Ranger. He is slow to get up and needs help down the runway.

2:55 - Fleury hasn't faced a ton of shots to start this one, but has been alert. He has had to make some tough saves on some of the shots he has faced.

4:46 - Rangers are laying some big hits on the Pens.

9:28 - Both teams are getting chances. Neither team has taken complete control of the game, more like trading possession.

10:11 - Pouliot fires a hard/fast shot on net, but Lunqvist is able to make the save. Solid shot by the young defender.

12:05 - The Rangers are able to kill off the Pens power play. The Pens have to get second, third chances on their shots.

14:05 - First power play of the game goes to the Pens as Moore takes a seat for hooking.

14:32 - Yandle rifles one from the point, but Fleury gets a piece of it with his glove to direct it wide.

16:57 - Fleury makes a solid diving save and holds for the whistle.

18:45 - Crosby sets up Daley for a chance, but Lunqvist comes out to cut down the angle and make the save.

20:00 - It's Hockey Night in Pittsburgh! The Pens have to come out strong, keep up the pressure, and play a full 60 minute game! Lets Go Pens!  

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