PITTSBURGH — Backed by Henrik Lundqvist’s 34 saves, the Rangers extended their winning streak to four games with an impressive 3-0 blanking of Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on Wednesday night.
Lundqvist posted his third shutout of the season and first since a 3-0 whitewash of Nashville on Nov. 23rd. It was the first game of the season between the two teams — they will play three more times in March — and Sidney Crosby was held off the scoresheet after scoring 10 goals in the last seven games.
In his 666th appearance, Lundqvist tied Mike Richter for most in Rangers history. It also was his 58th career shutout.
With the Rangers up 1-0 going into the third period in a game that wasn’t exactly an offensive masterpiece for the Blueshirts, Dominic Moore kept the puck on a two on one rush and beat Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with a wrister at 4:21. Jesper Fast added an unassisted empty-netter with 1:31 left.
Moore’s goal was his first since Dec. 30, and fifth of the season, and provided a crucial cushion in CONSOL Energy Center, a building where goals come fast and furious. The Penguins had won six of the last seven, scoring 23 goals.
The Blueshirts (31-18-5, 67 points) are now 7-2 in their last nine games, and killed two power plays by the potent Penguins.
After the Penguins had five of the first six shots of the evening and stymied a Rangers power play at 6:19 when Kris Letang went off for high-sticking, the Rangers took a 1-0 lead. Kevin Hayes grabbed a rebound of Tanner Glass’ shot in front, skated right and fired in his eighth of the season under the leaping screen of Daniel Paille at 8:34. It was Glass’ second assist of the season, and Keith Yandle’s 25th.
Fleury kept it 1-0 with a terrific pad save on Oscar Lindberg, who set up alone in the slot shortly after.
That the Blueshirts were ahead was surprising, given the turnovers by almost every defenseman, with multiple gaffes by Dan Boyle, one on a no-look pass from the corner. But the Penguins weren’t really crisp, with passes just missing targets and shots going wide. The Rangers were also blocking shots.
Lundqvist denied Oscar Sundqvist’s shot ticketed for the far corner with his right pad, then Dylan McIlrath was sent off for interference at 17:18. Lundqvist was fortunate on a few near misses, but stopped Chris Kunitz’ redirection.
Early in the second, Conor Sheary broke between Boyle and Marc Staal and his backhander hit the post. For the first half of the second, the sluggish pattern continued. Yandle missed with a point shot on the first sustained pressure at the nine- minute mark. The Penguins then tested Lundqvist, who made a low stick save on Phil Kessel, but the juicy rebound was fumbled away. Shots were 16-10 in favor of the Penguins.
The Penguins broke down ice on a two on one, with McIlrath caught pinching at center ice, but Bryan Rust’s shot slid past the far post. Soon after, Fleury gloved Yandle’s point shot at the right post. Lundqvist made another quick right pad save on Olli Maatta after an awful line change, and in the final minute of the second got to the top of the crease to smother Patric Hornqvist’s try for his 21st save. The Rangers had just 13 shots on Fleury through two periods.