Penguins Fall to Rangers in OT, 2-1

The Pittsburgh Penguins came from behind in the 3rd period to force overtime, but gave up a powerplay goal to the New York Rangers in the extra marker to lose the game and the extra point that would have clinched the Atlantic Division title for them.  The Penguins need to get just 1-point in their remaining 2-games to lock up their first Division title in 10-years.  By earning a point in the overtime loss, the Penguins reached the 100-point mark on the season.  The Penguins now have a 2-point lead over Montreal for the Eastern Conference title, with the Canadiens having a game in-hand.   

In the 1st period, it was all New York Rangers as they outshot the somewhat listless Penguins 9-1.  The only sign of life for the Penguins in the period came at 5:22 when Ryan Malone took on Sean Avery in the game’s only fight.  Malone was never really able to get into a good fighting position, and only got in a few shots before going down to the ice after taking a blow to the head by Avery.  The Penguins failde to capitalize on a tripping call to Scott Gomez, but successfully killed off a boarding penalty to Georges Laraque. 

In the 2nd period, the Rangers got a 5-on-3 powerplay goal from Jaromir Jagr at 11:43 while Ryan Whitney (roughing) and Jeff Taffe (hooking) both sat in the box.  The goal was initially waived off as it appeared that Scott Gomez hit the puck out of mid-air and into the net with a high stick.  However, after a lengthy video review, it was determined that Rob Scuderi’s hand stopped Gomez’s stick just short of touching the puck.  The puck, still airborne above Fleury’s head from Jagr’s shot, then bounced off of Fleury’s mask and into the net for the goal.  The goal, Jagr’s 21st of the season, was assisted by Chris Drury and Brendan Shanahan.  After a miserable start, the Penguins did manage to outshoot the Rangers 9-8 in the 2nd, but were 0-for-1 on the powerplay.

In the 3rd period, Penguins’ Coach Michel Therrien continued to shake the lines up and the Penguins found a way to score with a pairing of Max Talbot, Ryan Malone and Georges Laraque.  Georges Laraque made a beautiful up ice dish to Max Talbot who passed the puck to Ryan Malone for the give and go.  Malone made a nifty pass back to Talbot who shot across the grain and beat Henrik Lundqvist to tie the game at 1-1.  The goal was Talbot’s 12th of the season.  The Penguins failed to convert on 2 powerplay chances in the 3rd and killed off their only penalty as they outshot the Rangers 12-9. 

In the overtime, the Penguins’ Sergei Gonchar was assessed a penalty at 0:24 as he held Jaromir Jagr on a breakaway attempt.  The Rangers took full advantage of the powerplay and converted at 1:46 off from a screened shot by Chris Drury, his 24th goal of the season.  There were no less than 3 players in the line of sight between the Drury and Fleury, preventing him from even seeing the shot.  The goal gave the Rangers the much needed extra point to advance their standing in the Eastern Conference and bring them closer to a clinching a playoff berth.

The top two lines for the Penguins were held without any points tonight by the good defensive play of the Rangers.  Marc-Andre Fleury had his first loss in 8-games, and is now 9-2 since returning from the high ankle sprain that kept him out of the lineup for over 2-months. 

The Penguins host the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night before traveling to Philadelphia on Sunday for the last regular season game. 

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