The Pittsburgh Penguins now hold a 2-1 series lead, and it’s all thanks to Marc-Andre Fleury.
Answering the bell and shutting the door on all 35-shots he faced, Fleury paced the Pens to a 2-0 win Monday night at Madison Square Garden. His second shutout in as many games.
Sidney Crosby, whose been criticized for his lack of scoring, finally broke through, and potted what turned out to be the game-winning goal, which is outstanding for his confidence moving forward.
The first period didn’t necessarily go the way Pittsburgh wanted it, but it could have been worse.
Mustering only seven shots on goal, Pittsburgh gave New York two power-play opportunities, yet somehow managed to escape unscathed. Which is not so surprising I suppose, given New York’s man-advantage woes.
However, a high-sticking double-minor was given to James Neal at the end of the period, and bled it into the second. Nonetheless, the score would stay knotted up at zero heading into the second.
And that’s where Crosby came in.
Fresh off killing Neal’s penalty, Crosby received a pass from defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, and skated up the wing. With the critics in his ear and the Garden backing their netminder Henrik Lundqvist, Crosby snapped one five-hole to give the Pens a 1-0 lead, and recorded his first goal this postseason.
Failing to convert on a power-play around the midway point of the second, Jussi Jokinen would get called for holding at the 13:12-mark of the period, and redeem himself immediately following its expiration.
Off an errant pass to the blue-line by Rangers’ forward Mats Zuccarello, a recently unleashed Jokinen out of the box stormed up ice, and sequentially executed his patented forehand-backhand-forehand move to put the Pens up 2-0, which proved to be the dagger.
Playing a solid shutdown game in the third period, Pittsburgh would fend off a rush from New York, and eventually strangle New York’s offense. Their efforts ultimately resulted in Pittsburgh taking a 2-0 series lead.
Other stats to pass along – Chris Kunitz garnered an assist.
Fleury’s second consecutive shutout marks the first-time he’s ever done that, and he continues to be the Pens’ best player night-in and night-out. Now, he gets a well-deserved day off after two straight days of competition.
Pittsburgh will now look to take command, and hold a 3-1 series advantage in their next outing.
Game 4 – which is Wednesday – can be seen on the NBC Sports Network, and is set to start at 7:30 p.m.