Sidney Crosby ended a 13-game playoff scoring drought as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Rangers 2-0 on Monday to assume control of their Eastern Conference semi-final series.
Following their 3-0 win on Sunday, the Penguins now enjoy a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven series with Game 4, set for New York today.
Crosby sparked the contest into life when he netted on a breakaway early in the second-period for his first goal of the post-season.
Photo: USA TODAY
It was just a matter of time for Crosby, who enjoyed a sensational regular season, winning his second Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer with 104 points
“The main thing is that you get chances and that you are out there creating things, making it tough on them,” Crosby, who also won the scoring title in 2007, told reporters. “That’s the first step, but eventually you trust that it will go in if you get those chances.”
Jussi Jokinen added another goal in the second and that was all the scoring Pittsburgh needed as Marc-Andre Fleury earned his second straight shutout with 35 saves in the triumph.
Fleury stopped 22 shots one night earlier and now has eight career playoff shutouts.
The Rangers, who survived a full seven-game series against the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round, have played five games in the past seven days.
If they were feeling any fatigue, it did not show in their attack as they were the aggressors. However, the Rangers are struggling on the power-play as they went naught-for-five and have not scored in 34 chances.
“We had the puck a lot more in their zone and more possessions,” Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “We have to continue to put more pucks to the net.”
New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist faced only 15 shots and made 13 saves.
Elswhere in the NHL, Marian Gaborik stayed red-hot with a goal after just 34 seconds to help lead the Los Angeles Kings past the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 on Monday for a 2-0 lead in their second-round NHL playoff series.
Gaborik was the hero in the series-opening win on Saturday, when he tied the game with seven seconds left in regulation and netted the winner in overtime, and did not slow down on Monday.
Anaheim’s Patrick Maroon tied the game at 9 minutes, 40 seconds in the first period, but Alec Martinez responded with the game-winner less than three minutes later.
Dwight King tacked on an empty-net goal for Los Angeles in the closing seconds.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy when the Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012, made 36 saves in a strong performance.
The Ducks will attempt to recover from two straight home losses when the series shifts down the road to Los Angeles for Game 3 tomorrow.
In other NHL news, the Carolina Hurricanes fired coach Kirk Muller and most of his coaching staff on Monday, one week into Ron Francis’ tenure as general manager.
“Kirk and his staff worked very hard, but we feel that the team is in need of a fresh start at this time,” Francis said in a statement.
Assistants John MacLean and Dave Lewis also were fired and goaltending coach Greg Stefan was reassigned back to the team’s pro scouting department.
Rod Brind’Amour, a third-year assistant who was the captain of Carolina’s Stanley Cup-winning team in 2006, will remain part of the coaching staff, Francis said.
Muller was 80-27-80 in three seasons with the Hurricanes, who have not made the playoffs since 2009, the longest active drought in the Eastern Conference. Carolina finished 13th in the 16-team East this season.
Muller, 48, made six All-Star teams during a 19-year career. He had never been a head coach in the NHL and was in his first season coaching the minor league Milwaukee Admirals when he was hired during the 2011-2012 season to replace the fired Paul Maurice.
Muller’s final season was doomed by subpar years from the four highest-paid players in the squad — forwards Alexander Semin and Eric and Jordan Staal, and goalie Cam Ward.
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