Short-handed Penguins get win over Rangers
NEW YORK — Dan Bylsma is not into giving away secrets.
That would include those concerning his input on how the Penguins keeping winning without so many regulars.
That did not include the identity of his sixth shootout selection Wednesday night — though center Brandon Sutter made that reveal unnecessary for Bylsma.
Sutter's clean beat of goalie Henrik Lundqvist won a five-round shootout for the Penguins, who came back from their own giveaway for a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
All Bylsma said was that a defenseman was up next for the Penguins had Sutter not scored.
“I was just looking for any opening,” Sutter said. “You always have a backup plan, and it probably was a deke either way. I did see an opening, tried to fire it and it worked out.”
Sutter's more eye-opening goal staked the Penguins to a 3-1 lead in the third period. He burst with speed into the offensive zone, cut with power from right-to-left, backing off a couple of Rangers in the process, and then pushed a backhand shot behind Lundqvist.
Goal No. 7 on the season probably was his prettiest in his two Penguins seasons, Sutter said.
“Anytime you get a one-on-one, especially 4-on-4, you want to try and make a play on it,” Sutter said. “I just tried to drive wide, get the (defensemen) thinking I was going to drive wide or shoot and try to pull it in. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't.”
It's working for the Penguins (25-10-1, 51 points), even though only captain Sidney Crosby's top line and the makeshift No. 1 defense pairing of Matt Niskanen and Olli Maatta are devoid of AHL call-ups as contributors. Niskanen played 29 minutes and 44 seconds. Maatta was a close second at 28:06.
When the top four defensemen are healthy — and that has been for fewer than four periods — Niskanen and Maatta might play between 15-17 minutes.
On Thursday night, they will be tasked again with anchoring the Penguins, who will face Minnesota at Consol Energy Center.
“It's probably more minutes than either player is accustomed to,” Bylsma said. “We're going to have to have those other guys step up some more (Thursday).”
Under normal circumstances, asking more from the other AHL guys — be they Brian Dumoulin on defense and working with the top power-play unit or Brian Gibbons filling in for the Jayson Megna, who was the replacement at second-line right wing for James Neal — would seem unfair.
However, Crosby is loving what he is seeing from a group of fill-in players that have sparked the Penguins on a 13-3-1 run since injuries started piling up.
“To go through what we're going through and still find ways to win says a lot,” Crosby said. “It says a lot about the character, a lot about the guys who've come up and the job that they've done.”
Crosby, the NHL leader with 49 points, did his job against the Rangers, assisting on goals by Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis.
The Penguins' league-best power play/penalty kill combination acquitted itself well, too.
Kunitz's goal was on the advantage, and the Penguins killed three of four Rangers' power plays — holding New York without a shot on two, and denying it a winning goal in overtime while going against a 4-on-3 disadvantage.
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury denied the Rangers' first four shooters in the shootout while winger Benoit Pouliot, missed.
Sutter followed that miss with his hit against Lundqvist.
That extended the Penguins' winning streak to five games and kept Bylsma from having to tell who was next in line.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ex-teammates say Kessel unfairly criticized
- Russian winger Plotnikov could join Penguins in August
- New Penguin Kessel’s shot is what makes him special
- Penguins’ Kessel ‘thrilled’ with chance to play with Crosby, Malkin
- Hurricanes owner rips Rutherford, Penguins
- Penguins sign defensive prospect
- Penguins get their man in making trade with Toronto for Kessel
- Penguins notebook: Sheary hoping to return to organization
- Starkey: Rutherford hits jackpot with Kessel
- Penguins notebook: Rutherford proves savvy in deal