PITTSBURGH (AP) — Tristan Jarry turned aside 27 shots to outduel Igor Shesterkin, Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth goal of the season and the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the New York Rangers 1-0 on Saturday.
Jarry bounced back from a rough performance in a loss to New Jersey by picking up his 11th career shutout and fourth this season. Malkin provided the difference with a power-play goal 5:09 into the third as the Penguins ended a three-game losing streak to slip past the Rangers into second place in the Metroplitan Division.
Shesterkin finished with 25 saves, but the Rangers, who tested Jarry early and late, ended their six-game point streak.
The two goaltenders matched each other stop for stop for the game’s first 45 minutes until Malkin broke through with New York’s Ryan Lindgren in the penalty box after hooking Penguins star Sidney Crosby.
The ensuing power play gave Pittsburgh its first lead in well over a week. Crosby threaded a pass to Bryan Rust, who then flipped it over to Malkin in the right circle. The Russian star went down to one knee to rip a snap shot that beat Shesterkin low.
The playoffs are still two months away, but the first of four meetings over the next six weeks between two teams separated by one point in the tight Metropolitan Division standings provided a glimpse of what could be in early May, including a series of post-whistle dust-ups and some steller goaltending by Jarry and Shesterkin, who took the ice with a combined 50 wins (25 each) on the season.
The Penguins seemed caught off guard at first by New York’s speed and continued a troubling pattern of getting off to a sluggish start. Unlike a blowout loss to last-place New Jersey on Thursday night, this time it didn’t cost them.
Jarry, who was pulled for the first time this season after giving up five goals on 19 shots against the Devils — most of them the result of shoddy play in front of the All-Star — kept Pittsburgh in it early by fending off sustained pressure from the Rangers. New York recorded eight of the game’s first nine shots while the Penguins were too busy frittering away what limited opportunities they created, most notably a 5-on-2 break in which two players passed up open looks in favor of trying to locate a teammate for a tap-in goal that never materialized.
Pittsburgh, as has been its habit of late, found its footing in the second period. The Penguins created several scoring chances only to have Shesterkin come up large each time. He denied Crosby from in close and made a pair of athletic stops on Danton Heinen, the first with a glove save on a shot from the left circle and the second with a well-timed slide nearly from post to post after Malkin set Heinen up for a one-timer.
The Penguins finally broke through early in the third, and Crosby’s secondary assist on Malkin’s goal moved him into a tie with Hall of Famer Mike Modano for 25th on the NHL’s career points list (1,374). Crosby is one of just five players to crack the top 25 while playing for one team.
Rangers: Begin a three-game homestand on Sunday against Vancouver.
Penguins: Play their third game in four days when they visit division rival Columbus on Sunday night.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism