The New York Rangers picked up their third straight win over the Pittsburgh Penguins this evening by a score of 3-0, and the Penguins weren’t too pleased. New York put together another masterful performance on the defensive side of the puck, and kept Pittsburgh off of the scoreboard. Of course, Igor Shesterkin also played a large part in the shutout victory as he turned aside all 30 shots he faced throughout the evening.
Frank Vatrano (16) - Chris Kreider (21) & Mika Zibanejad (45) - 0:24
Neither team was able to generate much offense throughout the opening 20 minutes, but the Rangers made quick work of Pittsburgh early in the second period. The Rangers top line immediately carried the puck into the offensive zone led by Chris Kreider, and they turned that chance into the opening goal. Mika Zibanejad was able to collect the loose puck and shovel a pass across the crease into open space. Frank Vatrano was in perfect position and flipped the puck under Tristan Jarry for his 16th of the season.
Artemiy Panarin (20) - Andrew Copp (29) & Jacob Trouba (25) - 9:47
A little over nine minutes later, the Rangers were able to double up their lead off of another beautiful play entering the offensive zone. Jacob Trouba started the initial rush with a great outlet pass to Andrew Copp, who entered the zone with plenty of speed. Copp took one look over to the other side, and laid an incredible pass right on the tape of Artemiy Panarin cutting through the middle of the ice. Panarin was able to collect the puck following the pass, and buried a seeing eye backhander under the crossbar to give New York a 2-0 lead.
Dryden Hunt (5) - Mika Zibanejad (46) - 19:22 ENG
With under a minute remaining in regulation, the Penguins pulled the goaltender in an attempt to jump back into this game. However, the Rangers did an excellent job of cutting down the passing lanes, and eventually forced a turnover in the neutral zone. Dryden Hunt collected the loose puck and sent a shot all the way down the ice to send the Penguins packing for good.
This is the exact type of game you want to see from the Rangers as the schedule continues to trend towards the playoffs. They handled the physicality very well, played their game, and got the last laugh with Pittsburgh frustrated with the result. With tonight’s win, the Rangers magic number to clinch a playoff spot drops down to just two points. Any win by the Rangers or a loss by the Islanders will lock things up as we approach the home stretch.
Oh yeah, and we’ll see you again Pittsburgh