PITTSBURGH -- Penguins fans filtered into the CONSOL Energy Center after the conclusion of Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Day parade looking to continue the party against the New York Rangers.
The Penguins didn't disappoint, scoring 1:30 into the contest and adding two more in the third, defeating the Rangers 3-0.
Sidney Crosby was held off the scoresheet and reigning NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin sat out a fourth straight game with an upper body injury but the Penguins rolled on, winning their NHL-best eighth consecutive game.
The Penguins broke the ice just 1:30 into the contest when rookie Beau Bennett snuck around the Rangers defense and caught up to a chip pass from Tyler Kennedy.
Bennett then took off towards the net and blasted a slap shot from the right faceoff dot that caromed off the far post and past Rangers netminder Henrik Lunqvist for his second of the season. This was the only tally of the first, but the Rangers were badly outshot in the first frame, 12-4.
The Rangers generated more chances in the second period, outshooting the Penguins 10-6, but they still weren't able to solve Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury.
On the other side of the ice, Lunqvist was able to shut out the Penguins in the second stanza, including a Penguins' power play, and the score remained 1-0 in favor of Pittsburgh heading in the third.
The Penguins went up by a pair via the power play at 6:34 of the third when Kennedy blasted a slap shot from the left faceoff dot and, much like Bennett's goal, ricocheted off the far post and found its way to the back of the net.
Less than a minute later Pascal Dupuis added an insurance goal as he was able to dig a Dustin Jeffrey pass out of his skates and backhand the puck over a sprawled-out Lundqvist. The goal was Dupuis' 14th of the season and seventh in his last six games.
Fleury turned aside all 23 Rangers shots in earning the victory and setting a new franchise record with his 23rd career shutout. Lunqvist made 24 saves in defeat.
Notes: The Penguins have scored the first goal of the game 20 times this season, tying with the Montreal Canadiens for the most in the NHL. ... The Rangers are 8-0-0 when leading after two periods. ... The Penguins lead the NHL in both first-period and third-period goals. ... Rangers wing Rick Nash has scored eight of his team-leading nine goals in the third period. ... The Penguins have lost 21 man-games to injury, the Rangers have lost 67. ... Scratches for the Penguins were Malkin (upper body), defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and defenseman Deryk Engelland. Scratches for the Rangers were defenseman Stu Bickle and defenseman Matt Gilroy. ... The Penguins next play on Sunday afternoon, when they host the Boston Bruins. The Rangers next play on Monday, when they host the Carolina Hurricanes.