for this game

Ruutu's career night puts Penguins atop conference

Mar 28, 2008 - 4:05 AM
PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- With all of the focus on Sidney Crosby, Jarkko Ruutu and Georges Laraque proved there is more to the Pittsburgh Penguins that their superstars.

Ruutu scored a goal and set up two others and Laraque added a tally and an assist as the Penguins posted a 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday in Crosby's return to the lineup.

All-Star Evgeni Malkin netted his 45th goal for Pittsburgh (45-26-7), which moved one point ahead of idle Montreal (43-24-10) for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins also improved to 7-0-2 in their last nine home games.

Josef Vasicek scored for the Islanders, who completed the season series against the Penguins with a 3-5-0 record.

"I thought the effort was there," New York coach Ted Nolan said. "They get a guy like Crosby back and (Marian) Hossa comes back, they're a pretty explosive team. ... We didn't capitalize on our power plays or special teams, but on our 5-on-5, I think we played OK."

The team captain, Crosby was back on the ice for Pittsburgh after missing seven games with a sore right ankle. The reigning Hart Trophy winner originally suffered a high ankle sprain against Tampa Bay on January 18 and missed 21 contests before returning on March 4.

"It feels a lot better," Crosby said of his ankle. "My timing's still not there, but as far as the ankle goes, it feels OK. It won't be an issue."

Crosby saw just under 20 1/2 minutes of action but did not factor in the scoring for Pittsburgh, which instead saw two of its role players take center stage.

"Those are the guys who need to step up this time of year - your role guys," Crosby said.

Laraque agreed.

"To win in the playoffs, you need the third and fourth line," he said. "Every year it's been like that. The top two lines, in playoff hockey it's so defensive that if you shut down the top two lines, you need the third and fourth lines to win hockey games. And tonight, it was just the way it showed up."

Entering with just 13 points in 66 games this season, Ruutu was the star for the Penguins, assisting on Malkin's goal less than seven minutes into the contest before snapping a 1-1 tie late in the second period with a shorthanded goal.

Racing down the right wing in pursuit of a loose puck, the Finn gained possession and skated behind the net before tucking it inside the right goalpost with 4:48 remaining for a 2-1 edge.

"What can you say?" Ruutu asked. "I tried to do something. I didn't have much of a line to pass, so I tried to do something and it went in. ... I couldn't pass it because the D was playing pretty well, so I tried to fake and make (goaltender Wade Dubielewicz) go down, and that didn't work, so I just tried a wraparound. He got his pad on it, but it went in."

"He played well," Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said. "He's been playing well, but tonight he got results. But there was something about the last month and a half that he has really picked up his game. He is aggressive, he is on the puck. He's doing a lot of things."

Early in the third, Ruutu made a perfect chip pass in the slot to Laraque, who skated in alone and lifted a bouncing puck over Dubielewicz at 6:40 for his fourth goal of the season and a 3-1 bulge.

"I knew Jarkko was going to try to pass it into the middle, so I just kept going," Laraque said. "On the breakaway, I got lucky because I lost the puck, so I just chipped it in. I didn't even mean to do that and it went in, so I guess it's a good thing I lost it because I would have made a move and he probably would have stopped it."

"Laraque goes to pull the puck to his forehand (and) the puck bounces over his blade and runs flat, and he panics and just puts it on net," Dubielewicz said. "But because he tried to pull it, I made a move, and he caught me in my move. ... It's just one of those nights where nothing seemed to go right for me."

Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was happy to see Ruutu and Laraque enjoy some success.

"I love to watch them go," Fleury said. "The crowd gets into it when they score some goals. ... That's pretty good to know that these guys can step in and get some points. It's always a big help for the team."

The assist completed the first career three-point performance by Ruutu, who was playing in his 415th NHL game.

"Some nights, it's someone you don't expect," Ruutu said. "Tonight, I was the guy. You play 400-some games and get three points for the first time. ... When you get a chance, you've got to take advantage of it or else you won't get another chance."

"His head's gonna get too big," Fleury joked. "He can't score that on me."

That was more than enough support for Fleury, who turned aside 27 shots - including 13 in the final period.

The news was not all good for Pittsburgh, which lost Hossa early in the third to an upper body injury. The Slovakian, who also appeared to hurt his knee in the first period, was hit from behind by Sean Bergenheim just over 3 1/2 minutes into the third and was attended to by a team trainer before leaving the ice under his own power.

Malkin opened the scoring at 6:53 of the first period. The Russian gained control of the puck in the right corner and walked out to the faceoff dot before unleashing a wrist shot that found its way through traffic and past Dubielewicz for a 1-0 lead.

However, Vasicek pulled New York even with 3:29 to go in the session, getting a return pass from captain Bill Guerin and beating Fleury with a backhander from the right circle for his 15th of the season.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NY ISLANDERS 1 0 0 1
    PITTSBURGH 1 1 1 3 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: PIT - EVGENI MALKIN 45 (JARKKO RUUTU, GEORGES LARAQUE) 6:53
    NYI - JOSEF VASICEK 15 (BILL GUERIN, FREDERICK MEYER IV)
    16:31
    2ND PRD: PIT - (SH) JARKKO RUUTU 6 (UNASSISTED) 15:12
    3RD PRD: PIT - GEORGES LARAQUE 4 (JARKK

    Mar 27 10:08 PM


  • NHL
    NY ISLANDERS 1
    PITTSBURGH 3
    3RD PRD: PIT - GEORGES LARAQUE 4 (JARKKO RUUTU, HAL GILL) 6:40

    Islanders 1, Penguins 3  3rd - 13:20Mar 27 9:42 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NY ISLANDERS 1 0 1
    PITTSBURGH 1 1 2 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: PIT - EVGENI MALKIN 45 (JARKKO RUUTU, GEORGES LARAQUE) 6:53
    NYI - JOSEF VASICEK 15 (BILL GUERIN, FREDERICK MEYER IV)
    16:31
    2ND PRD: PIT - (SH) JARKKO RUUTU 6 (UNASSISTED) 15:12
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST

    Mar 27 9:11 PM
  • 20
    roots
    bigsexy Added 5 roots

    Islanders 1, Penguins 2  2nd - 4:48Mar 27 9:06 PM


  • NHL
    NY ISLANDERS 1
    PITTSBURGH 2
    2ND PRD: PIT - (SH) JARKKO RUUTU 6 (UNASSISTED) 15:12

    Islanders 1, Penguins 2  2nd - 4:48Mar 27 9:02 PM


  • NHL
    NY ISLANDERS 1
    PITTSBURGH 1 0:00 LEFT, 1ST PRD

    Mar 27 8:17 PM


  • NHL
    NY ISLANDERS 1
    PITTSBURGH 1
    1ST PRD: NYI - JOSEF VASICEK 15 (BILL GUERIN, FREDERICK MEYER IV)
    16:31

    Islanders 1, Penguins 1  1st - 3:29Mar 27 8:11 PM


  • NHL
    NY ISLANDERS 0
    PITTSBURGH 1
    1ST PRD: PIT - EVGENI MALKIN 45 (JARKKO RUUTU, GEORGES LARAQUE) 6:53

    Islanders 0, Penguins 1  1st - 13:07Mar 27 7:50 PM
  • 15
    roots
    mrman226 Added 5 roots

    Islanders vs. PenguinsMar 27 12:32 PM
  • 10
    roots
    aqualung1 Added 5 roots

    Islanders vs. PenguinsMar 1 12:41 PM
  • 5
    roots
    MetsFan Added 5 roots

    Islanders vs. PenguinsFeb 9 8:33 PM