Tomas Vokoun and the rest of the Penguins have Madison Square Garden figured out. Now they just have to find their comfort zone back home in Pittsburgh.
Vokoun stopped 28 shots for his 49th NHL shutout, and the Penguins scored on the first shot of the first and third periods in a 3-0 victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday night.
The Penguins are 0-2 in Pittsburgh but 4-1 on the road — including a 2-0 mark at Madison Square Garden, with the veteran Vokoun backstopping both victories in his first season with the team.
“We knew we were going to get a guy who can come in and win big games for us, and he’s done that twice in this building,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said of the 36-year-old Vokoun. “He had two or three big saves that he had to make. He was great.”
Two or three was basically the extent of the offensive pressure generated by the Rangers, whose best scoring chances were a pair of drives that struck posts in the third period.
Vokoun played with the lead all night. Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0 just 1:24 in, James Neal added a power-play goal 28 seconds into the third period — after another costly too many men on the ice penalty for the Rangers — and Simon Despres netted his second NHL goal to give Pittsburgh (4-3) its second win in five games.
Malkin added an assist, as did captain Sidney Crosby, on Neal’s goal. Despres, a young defenseman, came out of the penalty box to score at 10:23 of the third right after Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman hit the post at the other end.
“I was imagining it in the penalty box,” Despres said with a smile, regarding the pass from Pascal Dupuis that sent him in on a breakaway. “It’s the first time in my career. I have been imagining it all my life.”
Pittsburgh has only one fewer win in New York this season than the host Rangers, who had won three of four overall.
Vokoun was steady throughout in earning his 289th NHL victory.