Penguins crush Rangers, extend winning streak to seven games

When you’re hot, you hot.

And the Pittsburgh Penguins are pipping, just pulled from the oven, hot at the moment.

Really, the Penguins are just following the script they’ve laid out in years past: trick everyone into thinking they’re finally donzo only to rise from the proverbial dead at some point during the season and slide into the playoffs like a well-timed direct message.

Wednesday’s 7-2 win against the New York Rangers on Wednesday Night Hockey was just another line that needed to be read in the play.

The Pens have rattled off seven straight wins and 12 of their past 15, with points in 13 of those. Math is hard, but this is a pretty easy equation to work out. The Penguins have been good — really good — as of late.

Of course, this has come courtesy of some stellar play by individuals on the team.

Sidney Crosby had two more points, pushing his total to 21 in his past 15 games.

Jake Guentzel scored again and added an assist, giving him 14 points during that span. Kris Letang also had a goal and an apple, and he has 15 points in his past 14 games.

And then there’s Matt Murray, whose personal resurrection has given him six wins now on the trot, with his save percentage in those six games not dropping below a .927.

The switcheroo Murray has pulled off is staggering.

In the first 11 games prior to his injury troubles, he was 4-5-1 with an abysmal 4.08 goals-against average and a .877 save percentage. Since returning — entering Wednesday — he was 5-0-0 with a 1.38 goals-against average and a .959 save percentage.

It’s quite ridiculous (and likely unsustainable). Murray stopped 28 shots in the game for another solid outing.

The loss for the Rangers comes after putting together back-to-back wins.

New York’s success largely runs through Henrik Lundqvist and his performance on any given night. ‘The King’ allowed six goals on 18 shots for an ugly .667 save percentage before getting the mercy pull in favor Alexandar Georgiev, with Tanner Pearson‘s fifth in Pittsburgh threads providing the final dagger on Lundqvist’s night.

The Rangers are still within reach of a Stanley Cup Playoff spot, sitting six points behind the idle Montreal Canadiens. They’re going to need more scoring and better goaltending if they’re to make a second-half run here.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

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