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Even if his team had given up at least the equivalent of a touchdown in the previous two games, it was Captain Sidney Crosby does not believe that substantial changes were needed to get the Pittsburgh Penguins home in order.
In Crosby’s eyes, an adjustment here and an optimization there would strengthen the penguins’ typically robust defense structure.
« We made some mistakes, » said Crosby via videoconference. « There were times when we got ourselves into bad situations to give up some pretty good chances. But we also generated some good ones. It’s just about tightening up our game a little and giving us a chance. »
The Penguins did much of that in a 5-2 win over New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.
It wasn’t perfect by any means. The Rangers had a fair share of quality chances, including two on mostly empty nets that resulted in missed shots and an unsuccessful penalty. But the Penguins largely limited the number of high-end scoring chances, keeping the Rangers to 24 shots.
The penguins went 1-0, 6 minutes, 26 seconds into regulation. After a cross-ice pass from Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson, rookie striker Radim Zohorna drove his 6-foot-6,220-pound frame onto the right wing. Zohorna blew past Ranger’s defender Libor Hajek, attacked the net from the left circle, cut across the front of the crease and stuck his second career goal with a forehand shot past goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin’s right skate.
A power play goal of 2:20 in the second half made it 1-1. Kaapo Kakko, the Rangers’ striker, fed Pavel Buchnevich’s puck just below the goal line. Buchnevich hit a pass in the right circle for striker Colin Blackwell, who scored a one-timer behind goalkeeper Tristan Jarry’s blocker on the other side for his eleventh goal of the season.
The penguins then quickly regained the lead at 3:23 a.m. of the second period. Defender Kris Letang, who was playing a cross sequence with Jake Guentzel, the Penguins striker, circled to the right half wall of the offensive zone and canceled a pass attempt. The Rangers forward Chris Kreider tried to move the game forward but the puck glanced off his bat and was deflected under Shesterkin’s left leg. Letang was credited with his seventh goal.
Another power play goal at 11:28 am brought the penguins at two. From the center of the offensive zone, Penguins defender John Marino pushed an easy pass to get Jason Zucker forward at the left point. Zucker pushed the puck into the left circle and distributed a puck deep to the left of the cage for Zohorna. From there, Zohorna set down the puck and fed the puck with the slot for striker Evan Rodrigues, who lifted a wrister past Shesterkin’s glove for his fifth goal.
Kreider received a penalty at 5:59 p.m. in the second half, but his wrist shot was cleared by Jarry’s gloved hand.
Sugar scored at 10:29 am of the third period to secure the win. Rodrigues took the offensive zone on the right wing and fought off Rangers defender K’Andre Miller. From the left circle, he was feeding sugar with a backhand pass. Sugar moved from his forehand to his backhand and mixed up a shot that shot through Shesterkin’s legs for his sixth goal.
The Rangers insisted as striker Kevin Rooney scored his sixth goal of the season at 1:48 p.m. of the third.
A goal from Penguin striker Mark Jankowski – his fourth goal – brought the goal to 18:29.
Seth Rorabaugh is a contributor to the Tribune Review. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or on Twitter.
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