Crosby leads Pen­guins in rout over Rangers

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By De­nis P. Gor­man

Sid­ney Crosby got an­gry, and then the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins got even in a big way against the di­vi­sion-lead­ing New York Rangers.

Fol­low­ing a first-pe­riod skir­mish with Ryan McDon­agh, Crosby had two goals and an as­sist dur­ing a five-goal sec­ond pe­riod and the Pen­guins shut down the Rangers in a 6-1 rout on Wed­nes­day night.

The Pen­guins held New York with­out a shot on goal over 23:59 span­ning the sec­ond and third pe­ri­ods. Scott Wil­son, Conor Sheary, Phil Kes­sel and Matt Cullen also scored for Pitts­burgh, and Matt Mur­ray had 16 \saves. The Pen­guins moved two points be­hind New York for first place in the Metropoli­tan Di­vi­sion.

“This is as good of a game as we’ve played all year,” Pen­guins coach Mike Sul­li­van said.

The Rangers won at Pitts­burgh 5-2 on Monday be­hind a break­out sec­ond pe­riod, and the Pen­guins ex­acted re­venge Wed­nes­day in nearly the ex­act same fashion.

“We learned from (the last) game,” Crosby said.

Pitts­burgh trailed 1-0 af­ter 20 min­utes, but then the de­fend­ing Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­ons took con­trol, chas­ing Hen­rik Lundqvist af­ter four goals on 17 shots.

“It starts with scor­ing,” Sheary said. “I think we’ve been hav­ing chances and we’re putting the puck in the net the last few games. I think tonight we got a lit­tle puck luck. I think we earned our chances and you’re not go­ing to lose much when you score six goals so that was good for us.”

Wil­son got his third of the sea­son 2:02 into the sec­ond to tie it. Sta­tioned in front of Lundqvist, Wil­son cor­ralled a cross-ice pass from Kes­sel and fired a fore­hand shot.

Crosby put the Pen­guins ahead 2:56 later by redi­rect­ing Ian Cole’s point shot. Cole had in­ter­cepted Mats Zuc­carello’s clear­ing at­tempt inside the blue line to start the counter at­tack.

Kes­sel in­creased Pitts­burgh’s lead to 3-1 with a wrist shot over Lundqvist’s left shoul­der at 10:12, and Crosby pushed the ad­van­tage to 4-1 2:45 later with his sec­ond of the game and NHL-lead­ing 14th of the sea­son. Crosby and Sheary broke in on a 2-on-1 with McDon­agh de­fend­ing, and Crosby’s at­tempted pass de­flected off of McDon­agh’s stick and flut­tered over Lundqvist’s pad­dle.

“We gave them some chances,” Marc Staal said. “Just an avalanche we couldn’t stop.”

Fol­low­ing Crosby’s sec­ond goal, New York coach Alain Vigneault re­placed Lundqvist with Antti Raanta.

The goal­tend­ing change didn’t work, as Sheary wristed his fourth goal of the sea­son with 3:18 left. Cullen’s fourth of the sea­son with 6:55 left in the third ended the scor­ing.

Raanta fin­ished with 19 saves on 21 shots.

Pitts­burgh may have been sparked by a first-pe­riod in­ci­dent in­volv­ing McDon­agh, Sheary and Crosby.

Crosby dropped his gloves and chal­lenged McDon­agh af­ter New York’s cap­tain drove Sheary into the half wall. McDon­agh had his jer­sey pulled over his head dur­ing the tus­sle, and of­fi­cials as­sessed McDon­agh a fiveminute ma­jor for board­ing and Crosby got a two-minute mi­nor for rough­ing.

“I saw (Sheary) kind of get in the num­bers,” Crosby said. “I just tried to stick up for him. Those are hits that some­times hap­pen fast and I don’t think (McDon­agh) was tar­get­ing (him) by any means.

“We’re a team. We want to stick to­gether, and I was just try­ing to stick up for him.”

The Pen­guins didn’t score on the ex­tended power play but did gen­er­ate three shots and their pres­sure kept the Rangers from be­ing able to im­ple­ment and sus­tain their at­tack­ing style of \play. New York led af­ter Rick

Nash’s power-play goal 4:22 into the game. Nash poked a loose puck past a sprawled Mur­ray for his ninth of the sea­son, five sec­onds af­ter Ev­geni Malkin was as­sessed a two-minute mi­nor for trip­ping J.T. Miller in the neu­tral zone.

New York went 1 for 3 on the man ad­van­tage while killing all three Pitts­burgh power plays.

New York’s 17 shots were a sea­son-low. Zuc­carello ended the nearly 24-minute shot drought with a back­han­der with 3:45 left in the game.

“I can’t ex­plain to you at this time ex­actly what happened,” Vigneault said. “Ob­vi­ously I’m dis­ap­pointed. The play­ers are dis­ap­pointed in our game. I know our fans are dis­ap­pointed.”

NOTES

Newly ac­quired LW Matt Puem­pel par­tic­i­pated in New York’s morn­ing skate. The Rangers claimed Puem­pel off waivers Monday from the Sen­a­tors. He and D Adam Clen­den­ing were scratched . ... Pitts­burgh scratched D Steve Oleksy and LW Tom Sestito. RW Pa­tric Horn­qvist did not make the trip as he is re­cu­per­at­ing from con­cus­sion symp­toms . ... Fol­low­ing the morn­ing skate, Vigneault said the Rangers es­sen­tially mod­eled them­selves af­ter the Pen­guins dur­ing the off­sea­son. “There’s no doubt they found a way to play at a fast pace, with speed; the right way. They won. They’re the cham­pi­ons,” Vigneault said. ... The Metropoli­tan Di­vi­sion ri­vals will meet three more times in the reg­u­lar sea­son: Dec. 20 in Pitts­burgh, March 31 in New York and April 9 in New

\York.

UP NEXT

Pen­guins: Play at Min­nesota on Fri­day night.

Rangers: Play at Philadel­phia on Fri­day night

JULIE JA­COB­SON — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Rangers goalie Hen­rik Lundqvist makes a save on a shot by Pen­guins left wing Conor Sheary as Rangers de­fense­man Kevin Klein helps de­fend dur­ing the first pe­riod of Wed­nes­day night’s game in New York.

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