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Rangers grind out victory over Penguins to overtake them in standings

PITTSBURGH — With a chance to reclaim second place in the Metropolitan Division, Rangers prevailed.

Now it’s likely that Rangers and Penguins will swap places in the standings a few more times. But the Blueshirts delivered a 3-2 win over the Penguins Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena to overtake Pittsburgh in the division by 91 points.

“Before the game you look at the table and you know you’re a point behind them and you have a game in hand – and you know there’s a big game coming up here,” said head coach Gerard Gallant after the win. “We were [saying], ‘Let’s play another good hockey game tonight.’ Just because we beat them pretty well in our building, we knew we were going to be challenged tonight.”

Taking to the streets and beating a team they scorched five days ago, resulting in the Penguins losing 11 goals to the Red Wings in the next game, is no small feat. Pittsburgh was hungry for a redeeming win, but Rangers held their own once again with a relentless forecheck and tight defensive play.

This one wasn’t as crisp as the previous two encounters between the teams. Aside from a brief scuffle between Rangers’ Ryan Lindgren and Penguins’ Jake Guentzel after the second half-time whistle, the focus of the game was on the puck for most of the game.

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Barclay Goodrow checks out Radim Zohona during the Rangers’ win over the Penguins on Tuesday.
AP

Maybe they’re trying to save it for the anticipated first-round matchup in May. There is also another meeting on the regular season calendar between clubs, scheduled for April 7th.

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“We know this team is right there with us in the playoff hunt,” said Chris Kreider, who scored his 23rd power play goal of the season in the league and gave Rangers a two-goal lead in the third period. “All games are [intense] At this time of year it doesn’t really matter where a team is in the table. The level of play and intensity seems to increase with every single game as we get closer to the end of this.”

Rangers’ redesigned top line with Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Frank Vatrano continues to be paralyzed. Trailing 1-0 at the start of the second period, Zibanejad sent a skillful backhand pass to Vatrano, whose quick free-kick beat Penguins goalkeeper Tristan Jarry to make it 13-32.

It was Vatrano’s fifth goal since joining Rangers seven games ago.

Just over three minutes later, Braden Schneider took a drop pass from Artemi Panarin and ripped one between circles to give Rangers their first lead of the night.

“I [saw] Panarin makes a sweet pass and puts it right on the plate for me,” said the rookie defender. “I didn’t even look online. I just shot.”

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Frank Vatrano (left) celebrates Rangers’ victory with Mika Zibanejad on Tuesday.
AP

While Panarin had two assists and Kreider had one goal and one assist, defenseman Jacob Trouba led Rangers with 25:05 ice time to lead to the win with three shots on goal, two blocks and four hits. Trouba and K’Andre Miller got a healthy dose of the Penguins’ top line with Guentzel, Evan Rodrigues and Sidney Crosby, whose power-play goal at 10:37 of the last frame kept things interesting.

Oh, and in true New York fashion, the Rangers rained all night Penguins in honor of recently retired Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

https://nypost.com/2022/03/29/rangers-grind-out-win-over-penguins-to-jump-them-in-standings/ Rangers grind out victory over Penguins to overtake them in standings

JOE HERNANDEZ

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