With the Pittsburgh Penguins missing two of their marquee players – Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin – the injured-prone Penguins looked questionable going into last night’s game. For once, the New York Rangers were beginning to look like their normal roster with the return of Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi, with the surprise (late) announcement that Brandon Dubinsky would as well. But it didn’t prove to be enough for the Rangers to take the Penguins, losing 4-3 in a shoot out. Walking away with a point, the Rangers now sit sixth in the Eastern Conference, with the Penguins moving up to fourth.
It started good for New York, with Brian Boyle wrapping around the back of the net, passing to Wojtek Wolski who wristed a shot on Marc-Andre Fleury. It deflected, and Brandon Prust snapped the puck in the net while Fleury was out of position. The Rangers took the lead just 3:52 into the first period, and delivered again with another goal just 1:41 into the second period. Artem Anisimov was credited with his 11th goal of the season after Marian Gaborik rushed up the right wing, then cut to the slot, passing to Dubinsky, who shot the puck on Fleury but Anisimov was right in the crease to deflect the puck into the net. Anisimov now sits just one goal below his career-high of 12 goals last season.
“I was just trying to bat (the puck) on net and it took a good bounce and (Anisimov) bats it out of the air,” said Dubinsky. “It’s a bit of a lucky goal, but it takes a lot of skill on his part to score, just great hand-eye coordination.”
The good news comes to a halt for New York there, as the Penguins answered back less than four minutes later with a power play goal from Dustin Jeffrey. Another five minutes into the second period, the Penguins scored again with a snap shot from Michael Rupp tying the game at two a piece. But the Penguins would take the lead for the first time in the game with 5:48 remaining after a one-timer from Zbynek Michalek near the blue line deflected off of Chris Kunitz’s stick near the crease giving Henrik Lundqvist no time to react.
But the Rangers would get their lucky offensive deflection as well. Fresh from his return, Callahan provided a much-needed power play goal with only seconds remaining in the second period after Michael Del Zotto and Mats Zuccarello worked the puck near the blue line. Del Zotto shot on goal, and the puck deflected off of Callahan’s stick past Fleury.
The power play for the Rangers came from a controversial fight between Prust and Jordan Staal with just over five minutes remaining in the second period. Prust knocked the Penguins’ Deryk Engelland from behind, and Jordan Staal came to Engelland’s defense. Jordan Staal landed a few shots on Prust with his gloves still on, and Prust spun and dropped to the ice. Many fans and critics on both sides believe Prust embellished the punch and looked to draw a penalty. Whether true or not, it worked as Jordan Staal received a game misconduct and five minute major penalty. The Penguins were now down three stars for the remainder of the game.
“He’s not typically a dirty guy, and I think he’d tell you he didn’t intend to do what he did, but at the end it happened and he paid the consequences,” Dubinsky said of Jordan Staal. “It’s a (lousy) part of the game.”
Going into the shoot out, the Lundqvist and Fleury represent two of the best goaltenders in the league. Rangers head coach John Tortorella went with Wojtek Wolski, Mats Zuccarello, Ryan Callahan, Artem Anisimov, Derek Stepan, Brandon Dubinsky, and Marian Gaborik. None were able to get past Fleury, and Lundqvist finally let in a goal from Dustin Jeffrey, ending the game.
The Rangers will face the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, February 3rd at Madison Square Garden.