Sabourin Victimized by Rangers in Shootout

The Pittsburgh Penguins coughed up a 2-goal lead to a New York Rangers’ rally on Wednesday night to force the overtime, and then lost the game 3-2 in the shootout.  The Penguins got goals from Mark Eaton (yes, you read correctly) and Jordan Staal in regulation, and Kris Letang in the shootout.  Sidney Crosby was held to a point and, in a rare moment, Evgeni Malkin failed to get on the scoresheet.  Dany Sabourin stopped 25 of 27 through 65-minutes of play for a commendable 0.923 save percentage, but turned to swiss cheese in the shootout where he was beaten mercilessly by all 3 Rangers’ shooters. 

In the 1st period the Penguins fired the puck relentlessly on Henrik Lundqvist, getting off 12-shots despite being short-handed for 4-minutes of play.  At 2:46, Mike Godard squared off with Colton Orr for an extended tussle.  While neither player landed any killer blows, Orr appeared to finish with a bit of an edge.  Then at 12:23, Brooks Orpik took 2-minor penalties for tripping and unsportsmanlike conduct as he retaliated against Orr for his physical work over on Sidney Crosby.  Fortunately for the Penguins, less than a minute into the first penalty, the Rangers were called for too many men on the ice.  In the ensuing 4-on-4 play, Sidney Crosby mesmerized the crowd by taking the puck around the back of the net and then passed the puck out to Mark Eaton who jumped up on the play.  Eaton took the pass and deposited into the empty side of the net at 13:56 as Lundqvist was caught hugging the post in anticipation of a Crosby shot.  For Eaton, it was a rare goal on a memorable night as he skated in his 400th career NHL game.  The Penguins outshot the Rangers 12-6 in the first, and were 0-for-2 on the powerplay.

In the 2nd period, the Penguins widened their lead to 2-0 at 9:35.  With traffic in front of the Rangers’ net, Rob Scuderi blasted a shot from the blueline.  Towering in front of the net, Jordan Staal got his stick on Scuderi’s shot and deflected the puck past Lundqvist.  Matt Cooke was credited with the other assist on the play.  Just a minute and a half later, however, the Penguins were dealt a similar hand as Scott Gomez unleashed a hard shot that was deflected past Sabourin by Nikolai Zherdev to make it 2-1.  Wade Redden picked up the other assist on the play.  The Rangers came on stronger late in the period and managed to outshoot the Penguins 9-7.  Both teams were 0-for-1 on the powerplay.

In the 3rd period, the Rangers kept coming as they managed to score the game-tying goal on a wrister at 14:03 from Petr Prucha.  Scott Gomez and Wade Redden were again credited with the assists, their second of the night.  The Penguins were dealt a blow as both Mike Zigomanis and Tyler Kennedy left the game with undisclosed injuries and did not return.  The Penguins continued to battle on and got numerous scoring chances, but were unable to beat King Henry.  Dany Sabourin posted some important saves late to send the game into overtime, and guarantee a point.  The Rangers edged the Penguins in shots in the 3rd period 10-9. 

After a scoreless overtime in which the Penguins outshot the Rangers 3-2, the game went to the shooout for the final decision.  The Rangers chose to shoot first and put Markus Naslund up front.  Naslund skated in and beat Sabourin with the backhand high glove side.  The Penguins then inexplicably fielded Miroslav Satan who has cooled off and is 0-for-3 on the shootout this season…..make that 0-for-4 now.  Next, the Rangers put up Nikolai Zherdev who had the team’s first goal of the night, and he beat Sabourin with a backhander as well.  In a must score situation, the Penguins put up sniper Kris Letang.  Letang came in and roofed a snap shot that beat Lundqvist quite handily and gave the Penguins a thin lifeline on the game.  But it just wasn’t meant to be as Fredrik Sjostrom came in and wristed the 3rd consecutive shootout goal past Sabourin to clinch the game 3-2, just as he did in their last matchup in October.  Despite playing a decent game in regulation, poor Sabu just got taken to the cleaners in the shootout.  

Jordan Staal, Max Talbot, Ruslan Fedotenko and Kris Letang all registered 4-shots on goal, while Evgeni Malkin posted 3 and Sidney Crosby had 2.  In the faceoff circle, the Penguins were horrible.   While Max Talbot was 67% (2 of 3), Jordan Staal was the next best at 47% (9 of 19).  Sidney Crosby was just 31% (5 of 16) and Evgeni Malkin was 17% (1 of 6).  Mike Zigomanis, who leads the NHL in faceoffs, was just 33% (2 of 6) before leaving the game with injury.  Evgeni Malkin led all forwards with 23:23 of ice time, while Kris Letang led the team with an impressive 26:25.  Marc-Andre Fleury and Philippe Boucher remained off the roster with injuries. 

The Penguins make a quick trip down to Carolina overnight where they will take on the Hurricanes on Thursday evening.  It is uncertain who will play in net for the Penguins.  Marc-Andre Fleury is traveling with the team and practicing, but no return time has been announced.  John Curry is also traveling with theteam and was tonight’s backup.

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