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Penguins 2, Rangers 0

PITTSBURGH (AP) -Jordan Staal's game-winning playoff goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins couldn't have made his parents much happier. Or sadder.

Staal's power-play goal in the second period broke a scoreless tie and Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made the lead stand up, giving the Penguins a 2-0 victory Sunday over New York Rangers and a home-ice sweep of the first two games of their second-round series.

Staal's goal came with older brother Marc, a Rangers defenseman on the ice, and was all the offensive support Fleury needed while making 26 saves. Fleury helped the Penguins kill off two key Rangers power plays in the final six-plus minutes before Adam Hall scored into an empty net with 16.7 seconds remaining.

Games 3 and 4 will be Tuesday and Thursday nights at Madison Square Garden, where Pittsburgh is 0-3-1 this season.

Staal's power-play goal at 13:55 of the second came with the Rangers' best penalty killer, Chris Drury, off for hooking. Evgeni Malkin gathered the puck in the left circle and, shedding Marc Staal, fed it down low to Jordan Staal, who shifted from his backhand to his forehand to lift the puck over goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

"He's a great passer," Jordan Staal said. "I'm just glad to be the finisher."

Did he realize who Malkin beat to get him the puck?

"Not really," Staal said. "It's all pretty much a blur out there."

Staal's game-winner no doubt delighted parents Linda and Henry Staal on their sod farm in Thunder Bay, Ontario, but also disappointed them. The Staals' parents decided not to attend the series because they knew one son would be disappointed when it ended.

Older brother Eric Staal of Carolina, a Stanley Cup winner two years ago, cut an NHL commercial in which he jokingly said the playoffs determine which son the Staals like best.

"That's a good question," Jordan Staal said, smiling. "I know they're cheering for a good game. This is tough for them, we know that, but it's part of the game."

Staal has played well in the playoffs so far after having a disappointing sophomore regular season, getting only 12 goals, none short-handed. He had 29 goals and an NHL rookie-record seven short-handed scores as an 18-year-old.

Lundqvist, a Vezina Trophy finalist, played a superlative game with 30 saves, several times making multiple stops with traffic in front of him and the Penguins pressing to take a lead they knew would put further pressure on the Rangers. New York now must sweep the two games at home to regain a tie in the series between Atlantic Division rivals.

"We just have to go back home and still feel confident, we know we can beat this team," Lundqvist said. "We have to go back home and get two wins there and come back here, and it's going to be pressure on them."

So far, it's the much younger Penguins who are standing up to the pressure of the playoffs, becoming the first team in franchise history to win its first six playoff games. The Penguins swept Ottawa in the first round.

"We haven't played our best hockey there (at Madison Square Garden), we know that," Jordan Staal said. "The way we're rolling right now, hopefully we'll be ready for it."

Sidney Crossly didn't score but again occupied the Rangers' attention at both ends of the ice, sometimes in a distracting way. Crosby drew the penalty that led to Malkin's deflected game-winning goal during Pittsburgh's 5-4 victory in Game 1 on Friday, causing some of the Rangers to accuse him of diving to set up the power play.

When Crosby went down again in the first period to draw another penalty, Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr - the former Penguins star - could be seen yelling at Crosby, "Stand up!"

Asked what he said to Crosby, Jagr said, "Just play hockey, that's all."

New York was 0-for-6 on the power play and is 1-for-9 in the series.

"We need a little more traffic (in front against Fleury)," coach Tom Renney said. "I'm not going to suggest it was really easy for him, but it certainly could have been tougher. The big thing for us is to create some momentum of our own at MSG and really take this series back."

Fleury bounced back from his worst game of these playoffs to play his best.

"As a goalie, it never feels good to give up four goals, so I wanted to come back and play a good game," he said.

Martin Straka shoveled the puck between Fleury's pads during New York's next-to-last power play, but referee Dan O'Halloran - who felt the puck had been covered - blew his whistle before it crossed the goal line.

"I thought it was an accurate call," Renney said. "I don't know if it was a quick whistle or not."

Notes: The Penguins are 8-2 in home playoff games against the Rangers. New York lost its previous three playoff series against Pittsburgh. ... Pittsburgh has at least one power-play goal in all six playoff games. ... The Penguins have won Game 2 in their last eight playoff series. ... The Rangers last came back from a 2-0 playoff deficit to win a series in 1996, taking the final four against Montreal.



Associated Press
Three star selections:
1st:   MARC-ANDRE FLEURY
2nd:   JORDAN STAAL
3rd:   HENRIK LUNDQVIST
Winning Goaltender:
Marc-Andre Fleury

Losing Goaltender:
Henrik Lundqvist





 
 
 
 
 
Penguins win series 4 - 1
Away @ Home Date Time/Results
   @   
Fri Apr 25, 2008 NYR 4 @ PIT 5
   @   
Sun Apr 27, 2008 NYR 0 @ PIT 2
   @   
Tue Apr 29, 2008 PIT 5 @ NYR 3
   @   
Thu May 1, 2008 PIT 0 @ NYR 3
   @   
Sun May 4, 2008 NYR 2 @ PIT 3

Game Winners
Goal Scorer

Jordan Staal
Thunder Bay, ON, CAN
Goaltender

Marc-Andre Fleury
Sorel, QC, CAN
Scoring Summary
1st Period Scoring
none
2nd Period Scoring
13:55
WATCH!
PPG - Jordan Staal,  Wrist Shot -  Assists:  Evgeni Malkin  and  Ryan Whitney
3rd Period Scoring
19:43
WATCH!
Adam Hall,  Wrist Shot -  Assists:  Rob Scuderi  and  Sergei Gonchar
Penalty Summary
1st Period Penalties
02:57 Ryan Whitney : Interference  - 2  min
04:25 Scott Gomez : Holding  - 2  min
10:41 Jarkko Ruutu : Hooking  - 2  min
13:34 Kris Letang : Unsportsmanlike conduct  - 2  min
13:34 Paul Mara : Roughing  - 2  min
13:54 Fedor Tyutin : Holding  - 2  min
16:38 Jarkko Ruutu : Hi-sticking  - 2  min
2nd Period Penalties
12:22 Chris Drury : Hooking  - 2  min
15:54 Marian Hossa : Holding  - 2  min
3rd Period Penalties
01:11 Dan Girardi : Delay of game  - 2  min
05:57 Blair Betts : Slashing  - 2  min
13:54 Petr Sykora : Hi-sticking  - 2  min
17:38 Hal Gill : Cross checking  - 2  min
Shots
  1st 2nd 3rd
NY Rangers 10  26 
Pittsburgh 14  32 

  Saves - Shots
Goalie Team EV PP SH Total 
Lundqvist NYR 16 - 16 14 - 15 0 - 0 30 - 31 
Fleury PIT 16 - 16 9 - 9 1 - 1 26 - 26