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Newcomer Jokinen helps Penguins win in a shootout

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- It is impossible to replace Sidney Crosby, universally considered the best player in hockey.

However, Jossi Jokinen did a fairly decent imitation Friday night in his Penguins' debut as he helped Pittsburgh beat the New York Rangers 2-1 in a shootout at the Consol Energy Center.

Jokinen scored the Penguins' lone goals both in regulation and the shootout two days after being acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes in a trade for a conditional seventh-round draft pick.

"I think that's a pretty good way to start,' Jokinen said with a smile.

Pittsburgh snapped its two-game losing streak, which came on the heels of a 15-game winning streak. The skid coincided with Crosby being forced out of the lineup with a broken jaw.

Crosby, the Penguins' captain and the NHL's leading scorer, was injured last Saturday when he was struck in the mouth by a deflected slapshot during a win over the New York Islanders.

Jokinen took Crosby's spot in the starting lineup, centering the first line with Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis.

"My linemates were great," Jokinen said. "Our line's skating got better as the game went on. Kunitz and Dooper were talking to me and making sure I knew what I was doing. It's going to be fun playing with those guys.

Jokinen was the first player to shoot in the shootout. He skated in from the right side, cut in front of Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and flipped a shot by him with his forehand.

"That's my No. 1 shootout move," Jokinen said. "I figured I'd use it in my first game with my new team."

Jokinen is third all-time in shootout goals with 31. He wound up shooting first because left winger James Neal left the game in the third period after being elbowed in the head by New York defenseman Michael Del Zotto.

"It's only fitting we got him to the shootout to show his skill," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stonewalled the Rangers in the shootout after holding them scoreless for the first 55:11 of regulation. He made pad saves on Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello, then ended the game with a skate save on Ryan Callahan.

Fleury made 34 saves two nights after he and the Penguins were trounced 6-1 by the Rangers in New York.

"It was fun, especially after the last game," Fleury said. "Shootouts are fun. Well, they're fun when you win. They (stink) when you lose."

The Rangers, who are battling with the New York Islanders and New Jersey for two of the final three playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, took three of a possible four points against the conference leaders in a three-day span.

"Obviously, you'd like to get all four but I thought our team played very well," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "Fleury was the difference. He played great. He's the only reason we didn't win."

Jokinen scored on a snap shot 30 seconds into the third period to break a scoreless tie. It was his seventh goal of the season.

Jokinen was also outstanding on faceoffs, winning 13 of 15 draws. He was 168-115 for the Hurricanes this season.

"I thought he was great from the jump and was just exceptional from the faceoff circle," Bylsma said. "He played really well. It wasn't the first time he's scored with the Penguins on the ice. I'm glad this time it was with us."

Just two seconds after losing a video review, the Rangers tied the game at 1-1 with 4:49 remaining on Nash's 14th goal.

Ryan Clowe nearly scored with one second remaining on a power play, but the goal was disallowed following the review. Derak Stepan won the ensuing faceoff and Nash scored from the left circle.

The Rangers outshot the Penguins 14-4 in the third period after Pittsburgh held a 20-19 edge through two periods. In overtime, Pittsburgh had three shots to the Rangers' two.

Lundqvist finished with 26 saves.

"It was two good teams going at it and they got us in a shootout," Tortorella said. "It was a really good game.

NOTES: Bylsma reiterated before the game that Crosby has passed all concussion tests and will be able to return as soon as his jaw heals. Crosby was limited to a combined 63 games during the previous two seasons because of concussion problems. ... The Penguins had no update on Neal's injury status. ... New York defenseman Marc Staal is making his first road trip since taking a puck to the eye on March 5 but is not yet skating and there is no timetable for his return. ... Rangers rookie center J.T. Miller (right wrist) missed his third straight game and is hoping to be cleared to start skating Saturday. ... Scratched along with Miller for the Rangers were defensemen Roman Hamrlik and Matt Gilroy. ... Crosby was scratched for the Penguins with centers Dustin Jeffrey and Joe Vitale and defenseman Simon Depres.
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