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Lundqvist, Rangers blank reeling Penguins

PA Stats Inc
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The Hockey News
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Lundqvist, Rangers blank reeling Penguins

PA Stats Inc
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By Larry Fleisher
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Beating the Pittsburgh Penguins is nothing
new for Henrik Lundqvist. Seeing his teammates score two
power-play goals is something he has witnessed infrequently.

Lundqvist made 27 saves for his first shutout of the season and
the New York Rangers scored a pair of power-play goals en route
to a 4-0 victory over the slumping Penguins on Monday night.

Nigel Dawes and defenseman Paul Mara provided the offense,
scoring early with the man advantage for the Rangers, who
improved to 2-3-1 in their last six games.

Captain Chris Drury added insurance with a third-period tally
and Scott Gomez finished it off with an empty-netter during a
man advantage for Pittsburgh.

"It was probably our most complete game of the year," Drury
said. "It is pretty amazing what you can do when you play in
the system, play for 60 minutes, play hard and play smart. It
was a big win for us."

"Everybody seemed to have an extra step tonight," Mara added.
"We know how it feels to win games - we had it early in the
season."

Getting support from a power play that entered the third meeting
with Pittsburgh as the fifth-worst in the league (14 percent)
proved to be enough for Lundqvist, who is 14-6-3 in 24
regular-season appearances against the Penguins.

"If we want to win games, our power play has to be good,"
Lundqvist said. "We have the skill. I don't know why it hasn't
been working. Tonight, they really stepped up."

In his latest win over Pittsburgh, Lundqvist saw his teammates
score more than once on the man advantage for the fourth time
all season and first time since a 6-3 home loss to Vancouver on
November 19.

This showing on the power play came after the Rangers went
1-for-17 in their previous five contests.

"It's great," New York coach Tom Renney said. "You kind of
wonder if your power play was getting one a night where you'd be
in the standings. But it was good tonight and it's something to
build on."

"Anytime you can score on a power play, especially when it's
struggling, it's nice," Dawes said. "We just really wanted to
try and simplify it. Tom just went with lines instead of units
and we just were getting traffic (to the net) and that's how we
scored those two goals."

Lundqvist stopped 12 shots in the first period, eight in the
second and seven in the third to post his second career shutout
over the Penguins and 18th career. He also notched his first
blanking since April 3 at the Nassau Coliseum in a 25-save
performance against the New York Islanders.

"He played well," Renney said. "He played great tonight."

His best save of the night came in the second when he used his
left shoulder to stop Evgeni Malkin's breakaway attempt.
Lundqvist also denied captain Sidney Crosby late in the second.

"I haven't even been close to a shutout," Lundqvist said. "Just
going into the third without any goals against felt pretty good
to me.

Lundqvist also became the fifth goaltender in NHL history to
begin his career with four consecutive 20-win seasons and first
since Mike Liut from 1979-1984. Lundqvist joined Mike Richter,
Ed Giacomin and Dave Kerr as the fourth Ranger to post four
straight 20-win seasons.

The Swede also had to be especially sharp as Pittsburgh had four
power plays in the opening 20 minutes, seven through two periods
and eight overall.

The Rangers won their eighth straight regular-season meeting
over Pittsburgh, but the Penguins have suddenly encountered
problems beating anybody in the last month.

Two days after a 6-1 home loss to the Florida Panthers that saw
Crosby get 21 penalty minutes, the Penguins dropped their fifth
in a row and lost for the 11th time in 15 contests (4-11-0).

"It's a regular losing streak," Crosby said. "It's tough. It's
not easy and when it's tough a lot of people point fingers, not
people inside this room but people outside this room.

"It's easy to do that when a team is not playing well. It's
easy to point the finger, but in here, we're going to try and
help each other and we're not going to point the finger and try
to get out of this together and get ourselves back on track."

The skid has seen the Penguins fall out of the top eight in the
Eastern Conference. They have gone scoreless in their last 32
power plays and have just one tally in 134 minutes, 40 seconds.

"It's tough to stop," Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal said. "We had a
few chances, we hit a few posts. It's tough momentum to stop
and do the right things to win games."

Crosby was held without a point for the third straight game as
he took five shots. He also took an interference penalty just
two seconds into a Pittsburgh power play in the second moments
after the Rangers went up 2-0.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 22 saves but was beaten by Dawes'
one-timer from the left circle that went off defenseman Rob
Scuderi's stick just 60 seconds into the game and Mara's slap
shot from the blue line late in the second.

The Rangers then finished off the win when Drury had plenty of
room in front of Fleury and turned Petr Prucha's centering feed
into a one-timer.

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Lundqvist, Rangers blank reeling Penguins