NEW YORK -- New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves during the Rangers' 3-2 shootout victory against the Penguins at Madison Square Garden last night, and was named the No. 2 star for his efforts.
But few people seemed to recognize that Rangers center Chris Drury made the biggest stop of the game. There was no star-of-the-game recognition for him, no lavish praise from his coach or co-workers.
Just the knowledge that he made New York's victory possible by finding a way to keep a Sidney Crosby shot out of the net during a goalmouth scramble with the Penguins leading, 2-1, and a little more than six minutes left in regulation.
If Crosby's shot goes in, the game likely never reaches overtime, let alone a shootout.
- Matchup: Penguins at Carolina Hurricanes, 7:08 p.m. today, RBC Center.
- TV/Radio: FSN Pittsburgh; WXDX-FM (105.9).
Probable goaltenders: Dany Sabourin for Penguins. Michael Leighton for Hurricanes.
- Penguins: Have gone 1-6-1 in past eight visits to RBC Center. ... LW Pascal Dupuis does not have an assist in 14 career games against Carolina. ... Are 1-1 in second game when playing on consecutive days.
- Hurricanes: Are 6-7 at home, where they have lost three in row. ... C Eric Staal needs two points for 300 in NHL. ... Power play is 0 for 25 in past six games.
- Hidden stat: Hurricanes have fallen behind, 1-0, in 10 consecutive games.
And the Penguins wouldn't have been left to wonder how, for the second time in two visits to the Garden this season, they managed to build a two-goal advantage, but leave with only one point.
"It was a frustrating loss," defenseman Mark Eaton said.
One they came within inches of avoiding when Crosby, who had a strong game and got better as it went along, knocked the puck toward the goal line, only to have Drury stage an unexpected intervention.
"I don't know what happened," Crosby said. "I just tried to kind of stuff it. The goalie was out of the net and there was a bit of a scramble. ... It would have been nice to put it in."
Especially when, seconds after play went the other way, Petr Prucha of the Rangers scored the tying goal.
That was all New York needed to get the game to overtime and, after neither team scored then, the Rangers closed out the game with a dominant performance in the shootout.
Markus Naslund, Nikolai Zherdev and Fredrik Sjostrom all beat Penguins goalie Dany Sabourin, while Lundqvist rejected Miroslav Satan in the first round before being beaten by Kris Letang.
The loss dropped the Penguins (14-6-4) six points behind the first-place Rangers in the Atlantic Division, although the Penguins have played four fewer games than New York.
The Penguins played part of the second period and all of the third without fourth-line center Mike Zigomanis. He appeared to have hurt his right shoulder or arm but the Penguins did not provide any information on the nature of his problem.
Zigomanis, though, said he expects to be able to play when the Penguins visit Carolina at 7:08 tonight.
Third-line winger Tyler Kennedy left the game early in the third period and did not return. Again, there was no word on his injury, or how long he might be out.
Eaton gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 13:56 of the first period, when he took a feed from Crosby and beat Lundqvist from the slot for his first goal in 91 games.
"Nothing can surprise you when Sid's got the puck and he's making plays," Eaton said. "I just went there and kind of had a feeling he was going to make a play, because he always does."
Jordan Staal pushed the Penguins' advantage to 2-0 at 9:35 by deflecting a Rob Scuderi wrist shot behind Lundqvist, but Zherdev countered for the Rangers 81 seconds later. His goal was the first New York scored in a span of 108 minutes and 52 seconds, a drought that dated to Friday.
"They got a little momentum after they scored their first goal," Eaton said.
The Rangers' next drought didn't last nearly as long, as Prucha collected the rebound of a Scott Gomez shot that missed the net and caromed off the backboards, then beat Sabourin at 14:03 of the third for his first goal since Jan. 31.
"They had a good bounce for the second goal," Sabourin said. "It bounced right back on his stick."
It was a ricochet that might have saved Prucha's career. A few days earlier, he rejected a conditioning assignment to the Rangers' minor league team in Hartford, and his stock had been dropping faster than anything on Wall Street.
"I felt like it was my last chance to show that I can play," he said.
Whether Prucha made his point to his bosses isn't clear. Just as there's no way of knowing if the Penguins will ever again be able to transform a two-goal lead into a victory at the Garden.
"It didn't happen, but we deserved better," Crosby said. "We'll try to make sure next time, we don't let it happen."
Dave Molinari can be reached at email@example.com . First Published December 4, 2008 5:00 AM