The Rangers came into Tuesday night’s game with a one point edge on the Penguins in the standings, giving them a chance to put some distance between themselves and their division rivals while extending their win streak to eight.
The Rangers got to work early, scoring 22 seconds in the game. Vincent Trocheck carried the puck through the neutral zone and moved the buck wide to Chris Kreider. Kreider threw the puck on net from a bad angle, but somehow it deflected past Tristan Jarry. Though it was the only goal scored, it wasn’t for lack of chances. Trocheck in particular hit a post and had a few good chances in the slot.
For the first chunk of the second period, the Rangers defense was stingy, allowing few shots and fewer good ones. Things changed with about six minutes to go in the period, when Pittsburgh sustained enough zone time for K’Andre Miller to take an interference call defending the slot. Evgeni Malkin tied the game on the ensuing powerplay with a shot from the high circle that beguiled Igor Shesterkin. Shortly thereafter, Sammy Blais took an undisciplined penalty that gave the dangerous Pens powerplay another chance to work. This time it was Bryan Rust who notched the goal, tipping a shot from Pierre-Oliver Joseph to put the Penguins up 2-1.
The Penguins power play cannot be stopped— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 21, 2022
That's two man-advantage goals tonight and a PPG in nine-straight games. You love to see it. pic.twitter.com/a1Rqc1hCUv
Sidney Crosby extended the Penguins lead in the third period. Miller made a rare bad pinch in the neutral zone that left Jake Guentzel and Sid the Kid bearing down on Jacob Trouba on a two-on-one. That went about as well as it sounds like it would, with Guentzel feeding Crosby, who slid a silky backhander five-hole. Kreider answered with his second of the game to make the score 3-2, which would stand until the end of the game.
COUNT IT!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 21, 2022
That's another even-strength goal for Sidney Crosby.
Of his 42 points, 33 of them have come at even strength (16G-17A) which is first in the NHL. pic.twitter.com/tCAgOXViZ1
With the net empty, the Rangers put on pressure, and Mika Zibanejad got taken down on what should have been a text-book tripping call that went unremarked upon by Wes McCauley and company. The Rangers would have had 40 plus seconds of six-on-four hockey, but alas, we live in a world where refs can arbitrarily go into “Settings” and switch penalties to “Off” when they feel like it.
So the win streak ends at seven and the Rangers now trail the Penguins in the Metro. It was a fairly even effort by the two teams, and the result could have gone either way, especially given the Rangers hitting three posts and the penalties called and not called.
The Rangers will take on the Islanders Thursday night, and look to reestablish a one game win streak.