Penguins' Penalty-killers Stymie Rangers in Game 2
PITTSBURGH -- All things being equal, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said he'd love to have a nice wrist shot from the blue line right into his pads be the first shot he sees in a game.
Three penalty kills in the first seven minutes of a playoff game? He'd rather do without it, but that's what he faced in Game 2 of the Penguins' Eastern Conference Second Round series against the New York Rangers.
Helped by a strong effort from his penalty-killers, Fleury stopped the Rangers on their three early advantages, as well as a fourth power play in the second period, en route to a 3-0 win.
The victory evened the best-of-7 series 1-1, with Game 3 on Monday at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
"Not the start we wanted, spending the first 10 minutes in the box," said Penguins center Brandon Sutter, who was second among Penguins forwards with 3:39 in shorthanded ice time. "We did a nice job of killing them off. Those were some of the better kills we had all playoffs."
The difficult run started 40 seconds into the game when Chris Kunitz was sent off for goaltender interference, but the Penguins held the Rangers to one shot on goal.
After Kunitz left the box, Matt Niskanen replaced him when he was called for roughing at 3:36. The Rangers managed one shot on goal, but Pittsburgh blocked three other New York attempts.
And at 7:04 Evgeni Malkin was penalized for boarding. The Penguins held the Rangers without a shot and blocked one attempt.
"You feel like you're behind the 8-ball when you have six minutes of killing in the first 12 minutes of the game," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "I thought our killers did a great job, answered the bell, did an extremely god job. They had [two] shots on three of those penalty kills. They did an outstanding job. We gained momentum from there."
The Penguins had to kill one more New York power play, when Kunitz was sent off for hooking at 3:39 of the second. That was the Rangers' most productive power play; they put three shots on net, but came away with nothing to show for it.
"We got the opportunity early to get it going on the power play and we didn't," Rangers forward Martin St. Louis said.
Later in the second, Penguins defenseman Kris Letang scored, and Pittsburgh got two more goals in the third to close the victory.
"[The penalty kills] were momentum-builders for us," Sutter said. "Seemed like we kick-started things from there and played a real solid 60 minutes."
In two games in the series, Pittsburgh has killed off all eight New York power plays. While the Rangers clearly are frustrated, having failed on 29 straight power plays going back to Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Penguins don't want to tempt fate too many times.
"We know their power play has been struggling, but they have dangerous players who can make plays," said Penguins forward Jussi Jokinen, who scored Pittsburgh's second goal. "They had some chances, but I think our killers did a great job, and [Fleury] was our best killer."