Sunday, November 18, 2007

Game 20: 11/17/07: Penguins 3 - Rangers 4 OT

The Penguins squandered a 2-goal lead on home ice last night, eventually losing in overtime to the New York Rangers 3-4 in overtime.

Early in the first, with the Ranger's on the power play, Maxime Talbot blocked a shot from the blue line. The rebound bounced to Sidney Crosby, who lead the short-handed rush down the ice. Talbot recovered, joined the rush, and Crosby found him with a cross-crease pass that Tablot shuffled behind Ranger's goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

Only recently has Crosby begun playing the penalty kill again, and the assist was Crosby's first shorthanded point since his rookie season.

Just minutes later, with a Ranger's penalty pending, the 6 Penguins skaters controlled the play, cycling the puck around the offensive zone. The puck bounced to Crosby who beat Lundqvist with a bad angle shot, bouncing the puck of the inside of Lundqvist's leg pad and into the net.

But after a decidedly Penguins 1st period, it was the New York Rangers who stormed out in the 2nd. Former Penguin Michal Rozsival scored 2 goals, one of which short-handed, in just over 3 minutes to knot the game all up at 2-2.

The Ranger's took the lead on Daniel Girardi's power play goal as the clock winded down in the 2nd. Ryan Whitney was unable to clear the rebound off a Fedor Tyutin shot, and Girardi picked it up and scored to give the Ranger's the lead.

In the 3rd, with the one goal lead, the Ranger's sat back defensively with aims on shutting down the Penguins attack. And they were successful until, with just over 5 minutes remaining in the game, Erik Christensen lead the rush, carrying the puck into the offensive zone. He beat the trap, throwing the puck behind the net just after crossing the blue line. After a fortunate bounce of the glass, Evgeni Malkin, with his stick tied up by the Ranger's defense, kicked the puck over to teammate Petr Sykora, who's back hand goal tied the game late in the 3rd.

In overtime the Ranger's Paul Mara found teammate Jason Strudwick for the game winner on a across the crease pass from an odd man rush.

Marc-Andre Fleury made some mistakes in this game, but none of them lead to goals. Rozsival's short handed tally and Strudwick's overtime winner both came off an odd man rush following a Penguins defenseman being caught too deep in the offensive zone. Whitney was guilty in the 2nd, Gonchar in OT.

The Penguins have yet to have the scoring breakout that they need to kick this November slump, though they did have a number of scoring opportunities which were thwarted by the stellar play of Lundqvist. Pittsburgh has scored more than 3 goals only once out of the 9 games this month. Of the 8 games in which they've scored 3 or less goals they have lost 7.

Again last night there were complaints about the poor ice surface at the Mellon Arena. It's to be expected from the oldest ice surface in the league, but it's just another reason why the Penguins will be looking ahead to that new arena that's on the way. For such a dynamic finesse squad, their game is hindered by the slow choppy home ice.

But they'll be back in the Mellon Arena on Wednesday night to finish off an incredibly difficult 8 straight Atlantic Division games, the Penguins (8-10-2) will face the New Jersey Devils.

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