NHL

Cullen: Notes on Crosby, Fleury, Gaborik, Schultz, more

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Scott Cullen
5/6/2014 1:33:01 AM
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The Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings combined for 32 shots on goal, yet both won Monday night. Notes on Crosby, Fleury, Diaz, Gaborik, Schultz and more.

FLEURY SHUTS OUT RANGERS, AGAIN

Sidney Crosby's first goal of the postseason was the game-winner and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 35 New York Rangers shots he faced, giving the Pittsburgh Penguins a 2-0 win in Game Three and a 2-1 lead in the series.

Crosby played 16:54, a threshold that he surpassed in 86 of 88 previous games this season and only had one shot on goal, but it found the back of the net, going five-hole on Henrik Lundqvist after being sent in on a partial breakaway by a Robert Bortuzzo pass. Crosby's goal gives him seven points (1 G, 6 A) in nine playoff games, which is below his standard, but getting off the goose-egg ought to alleviate some pressure.

The Penguins' other goal was a gift for Jussi Jokinen, who picked up an errant Rangers pass for a breakaway as he stepped out of the penalty box. Jokinen now has seven points (4 G, 3 A) in the playoffs and, with four shots on goal, was the only Penguin with more than two shots on goal in the game.

Back-to-back shutouts sure changes the view on the playoff performance of Fleury, who had allowed at least three goals in six of his first seven games in the playoffs, but he's stopped all 57 shots that the Rangers have sent his way in the last two nights. His save percentage is up to .919 for this postseason.

While the Rangers held a possession advantage by game's end, they gained that advantage on their punchless power play (now 0-for-30 in the past eight games) and once the Penguins had built their 2-0 lead. Before that point, the Penguins had 24 5-on-5 shot attempts for and 23 against (51.1%). After that, the Rangers held a 24-9 (72.7%) edge, but those are empty possession calories, a nature of the way the game is played by teams holding a multi-goal lead.

The player sending the most shots toward the Pittsburgh net for the Rangers was D Raphael Diaz, who had six shots on goal and nine shot attempts in his first game of the postseason. Next was RW Rick Nash, who had eight shot attempts, but is still looking for his first playoff goal this year. Nash has two goals in 25 career playoff games.

The schedule has been ridiculous for the Rangers, who have played five games in seven days, but they had better hope that getting back on a more normal schedule will be enough for them to solve a suddenly-hot Marc-Andre Fleury.

KINGS HOLD ON TO BEAT DUCKS

Jonathan Quick stopped 36 of 37 shots while Marian Gaborik and Alec Martinez scored first-period goals, then the Los Angeles Kings held on (adding an empty-netter by Dwight King) to beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-1, taking a 2-0 series lead.

Gaborik scored his playoff-leading sixth goal just 34 seconds into the game, after scoring the last two goals of Game One, and the Kings were off and running.

Martinez, who finished the year strong (7 G, 8 A in 22 GP after the Olympics) now has two goals and five points in nine playoff games.

Perhaps the most remarkable part of the night for Los Angeles was that D Jeff Schultz, playing with Robyn Regehr and Willie Mitchell injured, logged 19:58 of ice time, ranking fourth on the Kings' blueline behind Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin and Slava Voynov. That might not seem like such a big deal -- someone had to play those minutes -- but Schultz didn't play a game in the NHL this season. He had 13 points (2 G, 11 A) and was plus-10 in 67 AHL games. Schultz was minus-10 in Corsi for Game Two but that ice time played into that deficit.

Anaheim's goal came on the power play from LW Patrick Maroon, their third-leading playoff scorer (2 G, 4 A, 8 GP), behind Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

The Ducks were dominating the possession game, but couldn't solve Quick and now head to Staples Center down two games in the series. With the ice tilted so heavily in Anaheim's favour, the defence pairing of Ben Lovejoy and Cam Fowler was on for better than 80% of the 5-on-5 shot attempts.

Anaheim was seven seconds away from winning Game One and carried the play in Game Two, yet still lost, so while they are facing a daunting task to come back, they have been able to handle the puck possession game against a Kings team that was the league's best in that respect during the regular season. It may not do them much good, but it's more encouraging than getting beaten from pillar-to-post in the first couple games.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Marc-Andre Fleury (Photo: Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
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