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Rangers at Penguins - 12-15-10

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

PREGAME

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-Greetings from a chilly, chilly, chilly Pittsburgh. It's in the low 20s with partly cloudy skies. Winter has arrived:

-Time to start a new streak:

-Consol Energy Center:

-The ice:

-Sean Avery has at least one fan here:

-A tribute to Duquesne Gardens and the Mellon Civic Arena:

-The Salvation Army is on hand:

-Jaromir Jagr is still popular in Penguins and Rangers form:

-Tom Barrasso:

-A rare third party rival/tonight's opponent sighting. Chris Pronger Flyers and Ryan Callahan Rangers:

(With a hood jersey foul.)

-We're predicting a Mark Letestu goal tonight based on these two jersey sightings:

-Marc Staal:

-Erik Christensen has two fans here at least:

-Johan Hedberg:

-Ron Francis:

-We think this might be an Earl Ingarfield jersey:

-Former Penguin Michal Rozsival:

-Scott Gomez:

-Kevin Stevens:

-Mark Recchi:

-Brian Leetch:

-Zbynek Michalek:

-And Ruslan Fedotenko still has at least one fan here:

-Warm ups:

-A few line up changes. Brent Johnson and Ben Lovejoy are in the lineup.

-The Penguins' starters are Arron Asham, Matt Cooke, Maxime Talbot, Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek and Brent Johnson.

-Their scratches are Deryk Engelland, Eric Godard and Chris Kunitz.

-The Rangers' starters are Artem Anisimov, Ryan Callhan, Brandon Dubinsky, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Henrik Lundqvist.

-Their scratches are Derek Boogaard, Matt Gilroy and Todd White.

-Jimerson is all business:

FIRST PERIOD

18:51: Brandon Prust moves up the right wing and centers a pass to the slot for Brian Boyle. Johnson jumps out of the crease, knocks down the pass and covers. Nice play.

17:40: Avery has a shot blocked by Lovejoy from the left circle.

17:16: Evgeni Malkin chases after a loose puck in the right wing corner in the Rangers' zone. Girardi trips him up. That's two minutes. Malkin has drawn three penalties in two games. Sidney Crosby, who is still sporting his skeevy-looking mustache, takes the ice with Paul Martin, Kris Letang, Malkin and Cooke.

16:30: From the top of the slot, Martin deals a pass to Malkin in the right circle. Malkin unleashes a one-timer into a cluster of bodies. Lundqvist finds a way to eat it up.

15:26: Letang golfs a slapper from the right point. Lundqvist nabs it despite traffice once again.

15:18: Letang rips a wrister from above the left circle. Callahan does a baseball slide to block it. He does. He's smarting a bit after that. The Giradi penalty expires.

14:52: During a stoppage, a personal favorite, "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour, is played:

14:24: Mark Sauer moves in from the right point after a loose puck in the faceoff circle. He one-times it on net. Johnson boots it away.

13:09: Mike Rupp drops Sauer behind the Rangers' net with a hit into the boards on a nice forecheck. That forces a turnover to Dustin Jeffrey. It turns into a scoring chance for Craig Adams who misses wide of the cage.

11:05: Letestu attempts a backhanded wraparound to the left of the cage. Boyle gets a stick in the way and denies the shot.

10:24: Brooks Orpik is forced into a turnover at his own blue line by Chris Drury. Anisimov picks it up, zips in off the left wing and is tripped up by Letang. Anisimov still manages to get a shot on net from his right hip. Johnson covers it up. Letang is sent to the penalty box. Dupuis, Adams, Michalek and Orpik take the ice.

9:54: Christensen rips a wrister to the far side from above the left circle. Johnson gloves it and tosses it to Dupuis who whips it down ice.

8:11: Lovejoy fumbles the puck in his own end and turns it over to Prust. From along the left wing wall, he deals a pass to Boyle who uncorks a one-timer from the left circle. Johnson boots it away. Lovejoy owes Johnson a beer.

6:21: Christensen challenges Letang and Michalek two-on-one and manages to tap a pass to Alexander Frolov all a lone in the slot. Frolove gets behind the defense and moves in on net. His backhander is denied by Johnson.

5:50: Boyle is nabbed for holding Talbot. Crosby, Malkin, Cooke, Martin and Letang take the ice. We like Cooke in terms of his ability to be a nuisance in front of the net, he just doesn't have the hnds to be a regular

5:21: Crosby turns the puck over at the right point. Drury pushes it  ice while fending off a check from Letang. He taps it to Brandon Dubinsky racing up the left wing. As Letang dives with a poke check, Dubinsky snaps off a wrister wide on the near side.

4:30: The unofficial second or jayvee power play consists of Malkin, Crosby, Tyler Kennedy, Dustin Jeffrey and Alex Goligoski.

3:56: Martin taps a pass to Malkin above the right circle. Malkin booms a one-timer which Lundqvist fends off.

3:50: The Boyle minor is killed. That was a fairly unremarkable effort by the Penguins.

2:39: Michalek is in deep on the right wing and whips a wrister at the cage. Lundqvist denies it.

2:29: Michalek chops a slapper from the right point. Lundqvist boots it away with his right fool.

1:05: Letang knocks Avery off the puck twice along the boards in the Penguins' zone. That elicits quite a few cheers.

0:49: Letang cracks a one-timer from the left circle. Lundqvist fights it off.

0:38: Crosby and Cooke get  denied down low on a loose puck in the crease by Lundqvist and company.

0:12: Wow. Just wow. Malkin gains the zone on the left wing. He taps a pass to Crosby in the slot. Crosby shows a slapper, draws in the defenders, then deals it back to Malkin. Malkin sneaks in behind Girardi his forehand. He jams up Lundqvist then moves to his backhand and gently places it by Lundqvist's right leg with a forehand. What a pretty goal by two of the best players on Earth. Crosby and Orpik get assists. Crosby now has a 20-game scoring streak, the longest of his career. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 1-0.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Rangers 0.

FIRST INTERMISSION


-Well... we were about to talk about how the Penguins dominated play, especially late in the period, but had nothing to show for it. Then Evgeni Malkin has the nerve to score.

-But yeah, the Penguins controlled that period. They dominated possession in the Rangers' zone and just outworked them for every puck. It was quite a display. It's exactly what Dan Bylsma wants from his team.

-Henrik Lundqvist was outstanding that period. He's the main reason this is only a one-goal game.

-Brent Johnson was solid but he wasn't challenged a great deal.

-The Penguins lead in shots, 15-6.

-Michalek leads the game with five shots. Huh?

-Boyle leads the Rangers with two.

-Staal leads the game with 8:39 of ice time.

-Letang leads the Penguins with 8:04.

-The Penguins control faceoffs, 12-4 (75 percent).

-Letestu is 3 for 3 (100 percent).

-Drury is 1 for 1 (100 percent).

-Martin and Drury each lead the game with two blocked shots.

-Callahan is done for the night due to a broken hand.

SECOND PERIOD

17:57: Letestu, on with Pascal Dupuis and Chris Conner, snaps off a wrister from above the left circle. Lundqvist traps it with his chest and freezes play.

17:00: Kennedy steals a puck on the right wing boards in the Penguins' zone. He rips a wrister to the far side which clinks off the post.

13:26: After a pretty stagnant three-plus minutes, Dubinsky glides up the left wing one-on-one with Michalek. He snaps off a wrister high to the far side.

12:23: Cooke out-battles Derek Stepan for possession of the puck down in the right wing corner in the Rangers zone then zips a pass to Letang at the right point. Letang, aims, aims, aims then rips a wrister on net. Lundqvist gloves it. After a scrum, Cooke is nabbed for cross checking Steve Eminger. Maxime Talbot, Dupuis, Orpik and Michalek take the ice.

11:17: Attendance is announced as 18,242. It is the team's 183rd consecutive sell-out.

10:23: The Stepan penalty is killed. Not a lot going on there for the Rangers.

9:41: A slapper by Lovejoy from the right point is deflected wide to the far side.

8:26: In the slot, Kennedy leaves a drop pass for Martin. Martin grips and rips a wrister on net. Lundqvist eats it up.

7:52: Michalek cracks a one-timer from the right point. It saws off the blade of Fedotenko's stick and deflects wide.

5:33: Talbot gets mashed from behind on the right wing boards by Avery. Talbot crashes into the boards face first. Avery kind of hovers over him seemingly gloating over the cheap shot. Asham gets involved in the scrum. Cooke and a Rangers player wrestle away from that scum. Avery is sent off for charging. Letang, Martin, Crosby, Cooke and Malkin take the ice.

5:19: Letang sneaks up the right wing and feeds a backhanded pass to the slot. Cooke is there in front and re-directs it wide on the far side.

3:33: Fedotenko forces Martin into a turnover at the blue line and pushes it out of the Rangers' zone. That kills off the rest of Avery's minor.

2:51: Michalek chops a one-timer from the right point well high of the cage.

2:10: Jeffrey lays a hip check into Prust as the Penguins' blue line and forces him into a turnover.

1:19: Letang is knocked from behind into the right wing corner board. Letang is stunned a bit. No call.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Rangers 0.

SECOND INTERMISSION


-One way to describe this period:

-Pretty boring. Not a lot going on there. Lots of just safe conservative play from each team.

-The Penguins' power play has looked pretty ineffective so far.

-Lundqvist continues to keep his team in this.

-Michalek has been pretty aggressive offensively.

-Michalek still leads the game with five shots.

-Crosby has no shots.

-Boyle leads the Rangers with four.

-Staal leads the game with 16:41.

-Michalek leads the Penguins with 15:20.

-The Penguins lead in faceoffs, 23-12 (66 percent).

-Letestu is 7 for 9 (78 percent).

-Dubinsky is 4 for 7 (57 percent).

-Girardi leads the game with three blocked shots.

-Michalek and Martin each lead the game with two.

THIRD PERIOD

18:44: Malkin lifts a wrister from the left circle to the far side. Lundqvist snags it with his glove.

16:02: Ashm gets denied on a wrap around attempt down low to the backhand. Aver challenges him to a fight. Asham, never shy about fighting, accepts. They wrestle around mostly. A few punches are thrown. Not many land. The fight ends with Asham slipping backwards and predictably, Avery takes advantage and keeps punching. What a lovely human being. Call that a draw.

15:22: Prust chips a puck from the right wing to the slot. Frolov swats it on net. Johnson boots it away.

14:10: Christensen has a chance in tight but forces a pass. Johnson fends it off.

13:31: Malkin lifts a wrister from the slot. It gets deflected wide.

12:26: Marian Gaborik decides to make an appearance finally. He sneaks up the left wing with Orpik defending. Letang is lost on the play and allows Boyle to have acres of free ice in the slot. Gaborik pushes a pass to the slot. Boyle immediately chops it on net. Johnson slides to his left and boots it out. HUUUGGGGE save.

11:44: On the left wing, Fedotenko chips a puck into the faceoff circle. Stepan picks it up, moves in and pushes a backhander on net. Johnson fends it off.

11:25: Either Malkin hooked Staal or Staal held his stick behind the Rangers net. Either way, no call.

10:10: Cooke and Stepan race for a puck in the right wing corner in New York's zone. Cooke just lays his right shoulder into Stepan's left shoulder and dumps him pretty hard into the boards. An official immediately puts his hand up. That's two minutes for interference. Hmm... we guess that's interference by the book, but there are a lot of officials who won't make that call.

9:50: Ugh. Christensen races into the offensvie zone on the right wing. He zips by a poke check from Dupuis and challenges Michalek one on one. Michalek attemptps a poke check but Christensen releases a sick wrister which flutters over the glove hand shoulder of Johnson and into the net. Wow! What shot. Fire Ray Shero. Gaborik gets the only assist. Penguins 1, Rangers 1.

9:35: Un.Be.Lieve.Ab.Le. Girard snaps off a wrister from the right point. It hits a body or two. Boyle chops at it in front. Prust is able to fend off a check and whips it by Johnson on the stick side. Stunning. Two goals in 15 seconds. Boyle and Girardi get assists. Rangers 2-1.

9:01: Kennedy is denied in tight by Lundqvist.

7:39: The Rangers are pretty much in full-out Canadiens 2010 playoff mode right now. They're just collapsing around their net and rarely venturing even near the Penguins' blue line.

6:19: Malkin cuts across the slot with the puck. He pulls up in the right circle and floats a wrister to the far side. Dupuis moves towards the slot and is bumped by Rozival. Dupuis makes contact with Lundqvist as the puck hits the back of the twine. Officials immediately wave off the goal as the Penguins' celebration is cut short. The rule Dupuis made incidental contact with Lundqvist. Boos rain down. Wow. That's a tough call. Especially since Rozvial appeared to push Dupuis into Lundqvist.

5:31: Letestu chops a one-timer from above the right circle. It gets deflected wide on the far side.

5:18: Prust races up the right wing on a two-on-one with Frolov against Letang. Prust pushes a pass to Frolove but Letang is able to kneel down and poke the puck away. Big play.

5:05: What a collapse. Anisimov take the puck in the netural zone,  fends off Talbot and Cooke, dekes away from Letang and rips a wrister from above the left circle which toasts Johnson's glove hand on the far side. What a shot. What happened to the Penguins' defense? Michael Del Zotto and Rozsival get assists. Fire Craig Patrick. Rangers 3-1.

3:31: This is just ridiculous at this point. The Penguins turnover the puck int eh netural zone. That creates a pseudo two on one with Frolov and Boyle against Letang. Frolov deals from the right wing to Boyle in the slot. Boyle snaps off a wrister which burns Johnson on the blocker side. Welcome back the October version of the Penguins' defense. Fans race to the exits. Frolov and Staal get assists. Rangers 4-1.

1:35: Crosby forces Girardi into a turnover in the Rangers' zone. He deals a backhanded pass to Asham on the right wing. Asham winds up and cranks a slapper on net. Lundqvist eats it up with ease.

0:00: End of period. Rangers 4, Penguins 1.

POSTGAME


-Well that as sobering, huh? We haven't seen anything like that from this team in over a month. Ironically enough, against these Rangers in this building. The Penguins have come back to Earth.

-A large part of their 12-game winning streak was the defense. It was securing wins late. It was shutting down late offensive pushes by teams and ensuring the Penguins would come out on top. Tonight? Not so much.

-The defense collapsed. It allowed the Rangers to enter the zone far too often with time, space and speed. And with too many odd-man breaks.

-You can question the officiating all you want, but don't deny the fact that the Penguins could have built up a significant lead early in this game given the way they dominated puck possesion in the first period. They simply failed to take advantage.

-It's impossible though, not to question the officiating's role in this game tonight. An semi-questionable call on Matt Cooke in the third period led to Erik Christensen's goal. And obviously the incidental contact call against Dupuis on Malkin's non-goal pretty much started the cave-in for the Penguins.

-Michal Rozsival said it was Pascal Dupuis' responsibility to stop his progress when they made contact in the crease with Lundqvist.

-Henrik Lundqvist was the star of this game in our eyes. He held off an early onslaught by the Penguins and put his team in a position to stage this comeback.

-Crosby was held without a shot for the second consecutive shot. Not good. He needs to be more selfish, even if he has a talent like Malkin on his wing. He's the NHL's leading goal scorer. He needs to shoot.

-Kunitz's value has skyrocked these past two games. Crosby almost looks like a completely different player with Malkin instead of Kunitz. He goes from Brett Hull to Adam Oates.

-The Penguins' power play was really ineffective tonight. It went 0 for 3 and rarely seemed like a threat.

-Not that his defense gave him a lot of help late, but Brent Johnson looked rather ordinary. And that's probably being kind.

-The Penguins led in shots, 28-22.

-Boyle led the game with six shots.

-Michalek led the Penguins with five.

-Good for Michalek. Bad for the Penguins.

-Staal led the game with 25:32 of ice time.

-Letang led the Penguins with 23:28.

-The Penguins dominated faceoffs, 35-24 (59 percent).

-Letestu was 12 for 15 (80 percent).

-Dubinsky was 5 for 8 (63 percent).

-Girardi led the game with four blocked shots.

-Michalek led the Penguins with three.

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

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