This was the first time in a really long time that the Penguins went into a shootout and lost. They are typically money in this format and Marc-Andre Fleury was before before tonight stopping all 11 shootout shots that he faced. Last night he let in two on three shots and what looked like a good chance for a three game sweep in the last week before an extended Olympic break turns into only getting five points out of a possible six. Some will complain about not getting that extra point, but those people are dumb.
This was actually a pretty good game for the most part. While the Penguins dominated play for much of the game against the Sabres on Wednesday this game was a little more back and forth. The Penguins probably carried play a little bit more but what frightens me so much about the Rangers is that they always seem to do just enough to be in the game. They have the talent and they are pesky enough to hang around and make you hate them. That is kinda what they did last night.
The Rangers had the lead three different times in regulation but the Penguins came back each time. To be honest if the third period lasted a few more minutes the Penguins probably win in regulation. They were buzzing after James Neal was basically left alone in front of Henrik Lundqvist with about three minutes left to tie the game but they couldn't get that one goal.
The Penguins uncharacteristically gave up a ton of shots last night. The Rangers managed 41 total shots and Marc-Andre Fleury was on top of his game. Sure it would have been nice if he stopped one more shot during regulation but it was just another strong performance down the stretch here for Flower. This week he played all three games and gave up only five goals in 91 shots. That works out to a .945 save percentage and was the big reason the Penguins picked up five points. Great showing.
The other guy who was sensational was Olli Maatta. Holy shit is this kid good. He's only 19 years old and last night he was the best player on the ice for the Penguins. He scored his first ever power play goal to open up the scoring for the Penguins and then he was the one who fed Neal for the game tying goal after winning a puck battle along the boards. Maatta played over 21 minutes last night and he was a large factor for the Penguins. I certainly wasn't expecting him to be this good this year but man he's really stepped up in a big way, especially with how much time Kris Letang has/will miss.
Overall I don't think this was a really bad game that the Penguins played. The top two lines were really good and the power play cashed in on two of its chances. Sometimes the other team is going to sneak one out. Certainly the Penguins weren't at their best last night. Their PK gave up a pair of goals and the defense was shaky from time to time but whatever.
As I said in the recap on Wednesday night, I thought that if the Penguins could take four points out of the three games that would be good. They took five. I will take that every single time. The Rangers are second in the Metro and the Penguins are up 16 points on them through 58 games (59 games for the Rangers).
Olympics time after some NHL games today. Go USA.