Sidney Crosby entered Monday night lugging a 13-game postseason goal drought, so it was going to take a lot to keep him from top billing if he scored and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Rangers in Game 3 of their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series.
It turns out, Crosby will have to be content with getting his elusive goal.
The Penguins’ star center buried a breakaway in the second period and Marc-Andre Fleury earned his second consecutive shutout as Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead in the series with a 2-0 victory Monday at Madison Square Garden.
Unlike Sunday night, in which Fleury was more of a supporting character behind the Penguins’ dominant team performance, the 29-year-old goaltender had more influence when the series shifted to New York in a rare back-to-back playoff situation.
The Rangers must’ve felt like Monday was a continuation of Sunday, as Fleury stopped all 35 shots to become the first goalie in Penguins history to blank an opponent in two straight playoff games. He had a little help from the crossbar on a Mats Zuccarello shot in the second and a couple other shots that hit posts, but otherwise Fleury was once again settled and calm while New York pushed for a much-needed goal.
Instead, it was Crosby who found what he was looking for. He was denied an assist in the first period when Brian Gibbons missed an open net, so Crosby took matters into his own hands 2:34 into the second, taking a long pass from Robert Bortuzzo and rifling a forehand shot under Lundqvist for his first goal of the postseason.
The Rangers’ power play continues to struggle, as it’s without a goal in 34 consecutive opportunities. The advantage had just misfired late in the second when Jussi Jokinen scooped up a loose puck after emerging from the penalty box and beat Lundqvist stick side for a 2-0 Penguins lead. Jokinen, who scored Sunday night as well, leads Pittsburgh with five playoff goals.
The goal was redemption for Jokinen after he hit the post on an earlier chance. Chris Kunitz was also denied on a long breakaway in the first, so the Pens had more than their share of chances despite recording just 15 shots on goal. They made two of them count, which has put them halfway to triumph in this best-of-seven series.
The Pens and Rangers get together Wednesday night at MSG for Game 4.