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Article:Fleury and Pens Shut Out Rangers, Take 2-0 Series Lead

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A dejected Jagr walks away from the post-goal celebration of his former team

Read more at Pensburgh.com

As this series progresses, you have to wonder how many more excuses the Rangers plan on pulling out of their hats.  While Pens and Rangers fans alike have already been berated with stories of Crosby's diving, expect tomorrow's headlines to read somewhere along the lines of a poor officiating call costing the Rangers the game.

And maybe it'll also talk about how the NHL hates Marty Straka.

Two games in a row now Straka, a former Penguin, has been the root of attention.  In the first game, it was his blatantly obvious interference call which, while a penalty, may not have warranted a call at that point in a game.  Blame it on tight officiating, Sid diving or the obvious penalty - but Straka still found himself on the receiving end of some criticism.

In Game Two, with the Penguins ahead 1-0, Straka tried at a puck loose in front of Marc-Andre Fleury.  As the play came to a whistling halt, the puck managed to slip past MAF and into the net, called off in accordance with the whistle.

While I'm not siding with either team on this incident, I will say that whistling a puck frozen beneath a goalie is one of the msot difficult calls for a ref to make.  More often than not, the puck is hard for the eye to pick up beneath pads, sticks and sprawling players.  If the ref is a second late, he may allow a goal.  If he's a second early, he may disallow a goal.  Timing is everything in situations like this, but unfortunately not the easiest thing to time right from the start.

Not to mention, the refs allowed the Rangers to keep playing in an earlier instance with a loose puck in front of Fleury.  No whistle there...

So who do they blame?

If I had to guess, aside from the aforementioned Crosby dives and refs suck headlines, they should look at themselves with a more critical eye.

As hard as they tried, the Rangers were unable to convert on any of their six power play chances.  Most of the PP time was ticked of the clock while the Rangers tried to situate themselves on ice.  When New York finally mustered up an attack, the puck was just as easily cleared.  Plus, it kind of hurts when Jagr thinks he can still do it all on his own.

That's not to say the Penguins' power play attempts (Four of them) were all the better, but they did manage to convert on one from the stick of Jordan Staal.  It would prove to be the only defended goal of the night, as Adam Hall tagged the empty netter in the third.

If anything, the goaltending duel in this match-up is more like what critics and experts alike expected for Game One.

Fleury stopped all 26 shots faced, while Henrik stopped 30 of 31, making him the surprisingly better goalie on the night.  Much to the astonishment of Rangers fans, Sunday's meeting brought a shutout, but not for their goalie of choice.

Heading into New York on Tuesday, it's the Rangers who are left searching for answers.  Pittsburgh, winners of their last six playoff games, will continue to add the offensive pressure and seal off the slots during the penalty kill.  If New York wants to make a series out of this, they'll have to win on Tuesday.  If Pittsburgh finds themselves heading into Game Four up 3-0 in the series, it's highly doubtful the Pens will take it lightly.

Updated stats to come tomorrow.  Game Three is Tuesday at 7pm.


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