The Rangers Don’t Look Like The Best Team In The NHL When The #Pens Play A Full 60 Minutes. @Pghpenguins

After their worst game of the season, falling to a struggling Buffalo Sabres team this weekend, the Pens turn around and play what I would say is easily their best game of the season.  From front to back, it seemed like the Pens had their heads on straight and were focused on one thing and one thing only… beating the Rangers.  Coach Disco isn’t the type of guy to let such a sloppy game, like last weekend’s Buffalo game, go unmentioned in the locker room.  Maybe we should’ve expected a game like this?  Regardless, the Pens came out and did it.  On top of the W, Fleury fought hard and earned his 22nd career shutout, tying Tom Barrasso’s record.

The pace was set early in the 1st when the Penguins were able to hold a constant, offensive shift that must have seemed never-ending to the Rangers defense.  Just when New York thought they were going to be able to buy a line change, they iced the puck and brought the faceoff back into their own zone, keeping the same line on the ice. The Penguins had to give their 1st line a breather, but with the Rangers left with almost no other option than to take a timeout, Malkin, Neal and Kunitz were back out on the ice with charged batteries.  New York was able to fight off the Pittsburgh domination without letting up a goal.  That easily could have easily turned into a momentum swing in New York’s favor.  Much to the Rangers’ dismay, the Penguins kept bringing the toughness and continued to be the dominant team, despite the empty scoreboard.

The second period should have easily been able to give the Rangers new birth being able to walk away from the 1st period without letting the Pens light the lamp.  As an athlete, having a team squeak away free of punishment like that, can either do one of two things… make you hungrier or get you down on yourself.  The Pens chose option number 1 and Malkin drew first blood against the Rangers, tallying his 33rd goal on the year.

(videos are flash – sorry iOs users)

The rest of the game seemed to carry on in very similar fashion.  As much as the Rangers were able to gain scoring opportunities, Pittsburgh would never back down.  The Penguins continued to take it to New York, line after line after line.  They catch their second break and what would later prove to be the final goal of the game, when Steve Sullivan rips in a powerplay goal from the point.

The Penguins were relentless for the rest of the game, playing the most solid 60 minutes they have displayed all season.  The Rangers tried to battle back but Pittsburgh was entirely too overpowering for them.  The score tells one story, but when you see saves like these from Marc Andre Fleury, the way the tale will be told shifts in a completely different direction…

If it seemed that this post was pretty general… it was.  I have a million different examples of great individual contributions brought to the table throughout the game.  The overall message is this… the Penguins played amazing tonight.  They beat the best team in the NHL and in commanding fashion.  Marc Andre Fleury, who often struggles to maintain a shutout score, held strong to the shutout against the best team in the NHL, also adding the reward of matching Tom Barrasso’s shutout record.  That all being said should say more than enough.  I want this to continue, and if it does, nobody will be able to stand in Pittsburgh’s way, especially in a 7 game series.

Great game fellas.