Penguins 3, Rangers 1

The Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins 44-year rivalry may have become a blood feud with one act and mouthfuls of words.

The Rangers’ 3-1 loss to the Penguins last night was overshadowed by a disputed first period slew foot incident involving Sidney Crosby, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky.

Callahan and Crosby were skating through the neutral five minutes into the game when the Penguins center kicked out the Rangers’ right wing’s leg out from under him. Referees Brad Watson and Steve Kozari called Callahan for interference against Crosby five minutes into the first period.

Dubinsky railed against the no-call to MSG Network during a first period intermission interview, saying it was a “dirty” act before taking aim at Crosby. “That’s the kind of (guy) he is.” Dubinsky declined to talk about Crosby after the game.

“I don’t want to sit here and talk about him anymore. I’m not going to even address it,” Dubinsky said. “I’m not going to sit here and talk about Sidney Crosby. I don’t care what he does – I care what our team does. It’s one of those things. Guys do things all the time. It’s not just him. It’s not something we can sit here and make a huge story out of, because it’s not.”

When told by Metro what Dubinsky said to MSG Network, a clearly irritated Crosby fired back.

“How many penalty minutes do I have this year, if I’m that dirty? I mean, please. Show me all those dirty plays. It’s a battle and he falls. I think Dubi has done his fair share of things out there that are questionable. I guess he’s talking again. But I’m not surprised,” Crosby said sarcastically.


He had 13 penalty minutes going into the game and was called for a trip in the third period.

“It’s a battle (with Callahan). He’s holding me going up ice and I’m trying to push him off. Is it that calculated? I’m trying to get to the net. I’m not worried about that kind of thing. If I tripped him, I tripped him. Am I dirty hockey player? C’mon. I think Dubi is smarter than that.”

While he believed Crosby did slew foot him, Callahan was controlled when he talked to reporters about the episode.

“Absolutely I thought it was a slew foot. He kicked the feet out from under me a little bit there,” Callahan philosophized to reporters. “I don’t know, the ref saw interference, and he called it. Once the call is made there’s not much to change his mind, so you just go about your game and continue to play.”

The play overshadowed another dominant effort by Crosby, who won 74 percent of the faceoffs he took against the Rangers (14-of-19) and recorded his 26th point in his last 13 games assisting on Kris Letang’s second period game-winning goal. Crosby was one of 11 Penguins who were plus-one or better against the Rangers. Max Talbot and Chris Connor added scored goals for the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 25 of 26 shots to earn his ninth win of the season.

The only Ranger to pierce him was Marian Gaborik with 3:41 remaining in the second period. Gaborik, who was a game-time decision to play due to effects from the flu, beat Fleury with a beautiful snapshot from the left faceoff circle. Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves.

The Atlantic Division rivals meet for the third time this season on Dec. 15. After that they will play three more times (Feb. 1 at MSG; Feb. 13 at MSG; March 20 at Pittsburgh).

Three things we saw last night:

1 Let’s get physical
— There’s a good reason why Pittsburgh hasn’t lost since that Nov. 15 defeat to the Rangers. In one word: toughness. Ryan Callahan slammed Kris Letang into the half boards with such velocity that Letang’s helmet came loose in the first period. Sidney Crosby retaliated shortly thereafter with a slew foot of Callahan. Brandon Dubinsky called Crosby’s play “dirty” before offering “that’s the kind of [guy] he is.” Dubinsky’s words hit as hard as the fists thrown by Brandon Prust and Michael Rupp in the first period, and those exchanged by Sean Avery and Tyler Kennedy in the second.

2 Can’t contain Crosby — This just in: Sid the Kid is pretty good. Crosby recorded the primary assist on Letang’s tally that put Pittsburgh up 2-0 midway through the second. It was his 26th point in his last 13 games, and came as no surprise to the Garden faithful. The Pens’ captain now has 20 goals and 31 assists in 26 games against the Rangers.

3 Turned away — The Rangers are at their best playing a physical, cycle game. Pittsburgh did not allow their Atlantic Division rivals to control the puck in the offensive zone. Instead, both teams spent 21/2 hours skating up-and-down the Garden ice. When the Blueshirts did rush, Marc-Andre Fleury turned them away, stopping all 12 shots in the final period. Marian Gaborik scored the Rangers’ only goal, cutting the lead to 3-1 with four minutes left in the second.
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