Penguins Lose 2-Goal Lead in 3rd Period, Lose in Shootout

After playing a very strong 40-minutes of play, the Pittsburgh Penguins pulled another 3rd period disappearing act on Saturday night.  The Penguins allowed the Rangers to outshoot them 18-2 in the final frame and score 2-goals, including the game tying goal with just 9-seconds left.  After skating a scoreless 5-minute sudden death overtime, the game was settled by a shootout where Fredrik Sjostrom netted the only goal and won the game for the Rangers, 3-2.  It was the 5th overtime appearance for the Penguins in just 9-games played this season, and 2nd shootout.  The Penguins have won 3 and lost 2 of their overtime opportunities.

In the 1st period, the Penguins outshot the Rangers 10-8.  While the Penguins failed to score on their lone powerplay opportunity, they found the net just 3-seconds after it expired.  Darryl Sydor let a slap shot go from the high circle area that deflected off from the legs of a Rangers’ defensemen and into the net behind Henrik Lundqvist.  Tyler Kennedy and Kris Letang picked up the assists on the play.  The Penguins played a very disciplined first period and took no penalties.

In the 2nd period, the Penguins struck again at 15:59 as Sidney Crosby whacked home a puck that had trickled between the legs of Henrik Lundqvist following a shot by Alex Goligoski.  Evgeni Malkin also got an assist on the play, which extended both his and Crosby’s scoring streak to 5-games.  The Penguins got into penalty trouble shorthly thereafter, however, as Brooks Orpik (slashing) and Mike Zigomanis (interference) took simultaneous minors at 16:36.  Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins penalty kill were outstanding, and they shut the door on the Rangers and killed off the 2-minute 5-on-3.  The Penguins were 0-for-1 on the powerplay in the period.

The 3rd period caught the Penguins looking too comfortable with their 2-point lead, especially as the Rangers came out looking hungry and aggressive.  The Rangers proceeded to outplay the Penguins for the final 20-minutes of the game, outshooting them 18-2.  The Rangers first goal came at 5:09 on the powerplay as Jordan Staal sat for a hooking minor.  It took the inefficient Rangers powerplay just 7-seconds of man advantage time to score, as Marcus Naslund took a Scott Gomez feed from behind the net and quickly beat Fleury to make it a 1-goal game.  Chris Drury picked up the other assist on the powerplay goal.  The Penguins continued to hang on through the remainder of the 3rd, and had an opportunity to score on the empty net, but Sidney Crosby’s backhand bounced wide of the net.  With the Penguins’ forwards in the offensive zone looking for the empty net insurance goal, Marcus Naslund quickly moved the puck up ice and found Nikolai Zherdev who unleashed a quick shot that flew over Fleury’s shoulder and into the net with just 9-seconds left.  The goal tied the game at 2 and sent it into overtime.

In the overtime frame, the Penguins put pressure on Lundqvist, but came up empty despite outshooting the Rangers 4-2.  In the shootout, Kris Letang, Petr Sykora and Sidney Crosby were all stopped by Lundqvist.  Marc-Andre Fleury, who played very strong all night and gave up 2-goals on 44-shots, stopped Nikolai Zherdev and Nigel Dawes before Fredrik Sjostrom connected on a goal that slipped in under his pads.  The loss was surely a disappointing one for the Penguins who had a 3-game wining streak going and were riding a 2-0 lead going into the 3rd.

Ruslan Fedotenko led the Penguins with 5-shots on goal, while Sidney Crosby and Mike Zigomanis followed up with 4-each.  Evgeni Malkin had 2-attempts go wide of the net and didn’t record a shot.  Maxime Talbot continued his mastery of the faceoff winning 5-of-8 for a 63% win %.  Mike Zigomanis went 5-for-9, or 56%.  Jordan Staal (6 for 12) and Sidney Crosby (7 for 14) both won 50% in the faceoff circle.  Brooks Orpik continued to be the hitting machine, with 6 hots and Kris Letang followed up with 5.  Ruslan Fedotenko added 3 hits of his own. 

The Penguins continue their road trip on Tuesday when they face the Sharks in San Jose, CA.

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