Penguins defeat Rangers in shootout, 4-3

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NEW YORK -- The Penguins have established themselves as a team that can deal with adversity. A lot of it.

And even though there surely is a limit to what a team can be expected to do under trying circumstances, the Penguins don't seem to have reached it yet. Not if their 4-3 shootout victory Tuesday night against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden is any indication.

"I'm real proud of the gusty effort we had tonight from some of the guys," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

His team started the game without three of its four usual centers and lost the fourth late in the second period.

Sidney Crosby missed his 10th consecutive game because of a concussion, Evgeni Malkin sat out his fourth in a row because of a sinus infection and Mark Letestu was scratched after injuring knee in the game-day skate.


Game: New York Islander at Penguins, 7:08 p.m. today, Consol Energy Center.

TV, radio, Internet: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9),

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Kevin Poulin for Islanders.

Penguins: Are 15-4-1 in past 20 home games. ... LW Chris Kunitz has 11 goals in 26 home games. ... Have scored five goals while going 2-0-1 against Islanders.

Islanders: Have lost 10 consecutive games here, including 1-0 defeat Jan. 25. ... C Josh Bailey has five goals in nine games inside Atlantic Division. ... Are 3-5-2 in second game when playing on consecutive days.

Of note: Islanders had allowed first goal in 11 of previous 12 games before facing Atlanta Tuesday night.

Jordan Staal, meanwhile, received a five-minute match penalty at 15:27 of the second, after he dropped Brandon Prust with a gloved punch to the head at center ice. Staal went after Prust after he had knocked down Penguins forward Tyler Kennedy.

"I wasn't particularly fond of the call," Bylsma said. "Certainly, it was a scrum, and both guys were taking their shots. I'm not sure the penalty was warranted."

Per Rule 21, Staal automatically is suspended, pending a review of the incident by league officials. A ruling on any supplemental discipline should be handed down before the Penguins face the New York Islanders at 7:08 p.m. today at Consol Energy Center.

And Staal wasn't the only forward the Penguins lost over the course of the game, as winger Arron Asham left with an unspecified injury after taking four shifts in the first period. There was no immediate word on the nature or severity of his injury.

Dustin Jeffrey, recalled from the Penguins' minor league team in Wilkes-Barre, filled in for Letestu between Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis and was the only player on either team to score during a seven-round shootout.

Kris Letang, Dupuis, Kunitz, Alex Goligoski, Tyler Kennedy and Chris Conner were denied in the shootout.

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped Wojtek Wolski, Mats Zuccarello, Artem Anisimov, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik.

Prust put New York in front, 1-0, at 3:52 of the opening period when he backhanded a Wolski rebound past Fleury from the left side of the crease.

Fleury kept the Penguins within a goal a little more than a minute into the second period when he denied Dubinsky from the front lip of the crease, but that reprieve was short-lived. Anisimov made it 2-0 38 seconds later as he swatted a puck out of the air and past Fleury from the right side of the crease.

While coming back from a multiple-goal deficit is a daunting challenge with All-Star Henrik Lundqvist in the New York net -- to say nothing of the players who were missing -- the Penguins began to climb back into the game a few minutes later.

"We got down, 2-0, in a tough situation," Bylsma said, "and our guys kept battling back."

Jeffrey cut New York's advantage in half with a power-play goal at 5:30 as his slap shot from the top of the left circle hit the stick of Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi and eluded Lundqvist.

He scored 10 seconds after Kris Newbury went off for elbowing Fleury, recording the Penguins' first man-advantage goal in 11 tries against the Rangers this season. Jeffrey's goal was his third in eight games with the Penguins in 2010-11, and it earned assists for Kunitz and Goligoski.

The Penguins' surge continued at 10:36, as Mike Rupp fended off Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto and swiped a Max Talbot rebound behind Lundqvist to tie the score. The goal was Rupp's fifth while Talbot's assist was his first point in his past 16 games.

At that point, the Penguins were rolling, and Kunitz put them in front at 14:12 as he deflected a Zbynek Michalek shot behind Lundqvist for his 17th.

Staal's match penalty left the Penguins short-handed for the balance of the period, but they almost made it to the intermission with their lead intact.

Just 12.5 seconds before the period ended, Ryan Callahan deflected a shot past Fleury to pull the Rangers even on the final goal until Jeffrey's that decided the shootout.

"We stuck with it all game long," Fleury said, "and it paid off at the end."

Dave Molinari: . First Published February 2, 2011 5:30 AM


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