The Pittsburgh Penguins lost a shootout for the first time in about two years on Friday night, and lost a 4-3 home decision to the New York Rangers in the teams’ final NHL game before a three-week break to accommodate the Winter Olympics Games.
Brad Richards and Mats Zuccarello scored shootout goals against Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (31-13-3). The Penguins had won nine consecutive shootouts, including all four previous attempts this season, and 22 of their last 25, dating back to February 26, 2011. They had not been beaten at home by the Rangers since 2012.
Benoit Pouliot scored twice in regulation for New York (32-24-3). Dan Girardi added a Rangers goal, and Henrik Lindqvist earned the win.
Pittsburgh trailed by scores of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, but tied the contest three times on goals by Olli Maatta, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. Malkin recorded the Pens’ only shootout goal, after Jussi Jokinen and Sidney Crosby had both missed.
The Penguins (40-15-3) will next play Montreal (32-21-6) on February 27 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, before meeting the Blackhawks on March 1, outdoors at Soldier Field in Chicago. Pittsburgh enters the break with a 16-point lead over the Rangers in the NHL’s Metropolitan Division, and a 5-point advantage over the Boston Bruins in the race for the number-one playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.
Seven Pittsburgh players will participate in Olympics men’s hockey competition, playing for various international teams, beginning February 12.