Crosby goal gives Penguins OT win in New York
NEW YORK — Coming into this season, having their previous two playoff runs ended by the same air-tight team, the Penguins had a New York Rangers problem.
Now, the Rangers might have a Penguins problem.
Sidney Crosby scored with 29.5 seconds left in overtime to give the Penguins a 3-2 victory Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Penguins have won three in a row against the Rangers and have inched within three points of them in the race for second place in the Metropolitan Division, a spot that comes with home-ice advantage in a first-round series.
“Mentally, it's nice to get those wins,” goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. “They've had our number in the playoffs the last two seasons. It's good to get a few.”
Kris Letang, who set up Crosby's overtime goal, said he doesn't think it's an accident that the Penguins have had success against the Rangers lately.
He said it's because of a trait that has defined the Penguins in the second half of the season.
“Speed. I think our No. 1 quality is speed,” Letang said. “We have these young guys in the lineup that can really wheel.”
Another quality is resilience.
The Penguins came back from a one-goal deficit twice in regulation before coming up with a different kind of resilience in overtime.
The Penguins began the extra period on a power play after Derick Brassard was called for high-sticking Ben Lovejoy in the final seconds of regulation.
The Penguins didn't cash in on the four-on-three advantage, which could have swung momentum in favor of the Rangers.
Instead, the Penguins persevered. Coach Mike Sullivan called a timeout in the final minute to rest his players, especially Letang, who was on the ice for the bulk of the extra five minutes.
“We were trying to get those guys on the ice one more time,” Sullivan said. “We think they give us the best chance to win.”
Seconds after the timeout, Letang shot from the blue line, and Crosby tipped it in.
“It was a good play by Tanger just to throw it in an area where I could tip it,” Crosby said.
The early part of the game featured multiple momentum swings.
The Rangers took an early lead when Eric Staal got a step on Trevor Daley and, with one hand on his stick, swept a Kevin Hayes pass in past Fleury.
The Penguins answered thanks in large part to a play by Derrick Pouliot, who had missed the previous 10 games as a healthy scratch.
From his spot on the left point, he called for a pass from Daley from the opposite point, took two strides toward the net and fired a shot that Matt Cullen tipped past Henrik Lundqvist and into the net.
The Rangers retook the lead early in the second period. After clearing attempts by Tom Kuhnhackl and Bryan Rust failed, a puck squirted to Staal for a one-time blast from the right faceoff dot for his second goal of the game.
The Penguins tied the score again when Carl Hagelin made his countryman and former teammate Lundqvist pay for a stickhandling mistake behind the net.
Hagelin picked up a turned-over puck in the left wing corner and sent a shot on net. Phil Kessel swooped in and lifted a rebound under the crossbar on his backhand.
It was an exclamation point on a big weekend for Kessel, who had a goal and four assists the day before in Detroit. He spearheaded some dangerous shifts by the second line and hit the crossbar with a second-period wrist shot so violent that it shook the net.
“Phil is getting his legs lately,” Letang said. “I think when he gets his nose in there, that's when he's at his best.”