Staal's power-play goal enough as Penguins drop Rangers

PITTSBURGH ( news services) -- Jordan Staal's game-winning playoff goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins couldn't have made his parents much happier. Or sadder.

Staal's power-play goal in the second period broke a scoreless tie and Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made the lead stand up, giving the Penguins a 2-0 victory Sunday over New York Rangers and a home-ice sweep of the first two games of their second-round series.

Staal's goal came with older brother Marc, a Rangers defenseman on the ice, and was all the offensive support Fleury needed while making 26 saves. Fleury helped the Penguins kill off two key Rangers power plays in the final six-plus minutes before Adam Hall scored into an empty net with 16.7 seconds remaining.

Games 3 and 4 will be Tuesday and Thursday nights at Madison Square Garden, where Pittsburgh is 0-3-1 this season.

The rest of the series could have some ill will. With the Penguins clearing the puck as the final seconds clicked down, Fleury hit Rangers forward Sean Avery in the backside with his stick. Avery spun around and hit the goalie with his stick before being pushed away. A melee erupted along the back boards, but officials gained control before things got completely out of hand.

That came after the Rangers appeared to tie the contest late ... if only for a moment. Martin Straka shoveled the puck between Fleury's pads during New York's next-to-last power play, but referee Dan O'Halloran -- who felt the puck had been covered -- blew his whistle before it crossed the goal line.

"I thought it was an accurate call," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "I don't know if it was a quick whistle or not."

Staal's power-play goal at 13:55 of the second came with the Rangers' best penalty killer, Chris Drury, off for hooking. Evgeni Malkin gathered the puck in the left circle and, shedding Marc Staal, fed it down low to Jordan Staal, who shifted from his backhand to his forehand to lift the puck over goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

"He's a great passer," Jordan Staal said. "I'm just glad to be the finisher."

Did he realize who Malkin beat to get him the puck?

"Not really," Staal said. "It's all pretty much a blur out there."

Staal's game-winner no doubt delighted parents Linda and Henry Staal on their sod farm in Thunder Bay, Ontario, but also disappointed them. The Staals' parents decided not to attend the series because they knew one son would be disappointed when it ended.

Older brother Eric Staal of Carolina, a Stanley Cup winner two years ago, cut an NHL commercial in which he jokingly said the playoffs determine which son the Staals like best.

"That's a good question," Jordan Staal said, smiling. "I know they're cheering for a good game. This is tough for them, we know that, but it's part of the game."

Staal has played well in the playoffs so far after having a disappointing sophomore regular season, getting only 12 goals, none short-handed. He had 29 goals and an NHL rookie-record seven short-handed scores as an 18-year-old.

Lundqvist, a Vezina Trophy finalist, played a superlative game with 30 saves, several times making multiple stops with traffic in front of him and the Penguins pressing to take a lead they knew would put further pressure on the Rangers. New York now must sweep the two games at home to regain a tie in the series between Atlantic Division rivals.

"We just have to go back home and still feel confident, we know we can beat this team," Lundqvist said. "We have to go back home and get two wins there and come back here, and it's going to be pressure on them."

So far, it's the much younger Penguins who are standing up to the pressure of the playoffs, becoming the first team in franchise history to win its first six playoff games. The Penguins swept Ottawa in the first round.

"We haven't played our best hockey there [at Madison Square Garden], we know that," Jordan Staal said. "The way we're rolling right now, hopefully we'll be ready for it."

Sidney Crosby didn't score but again occupied the Rangers' attention at both ends of the ice, sometimes in a distracting way. Crosby drew the penalty that led to Malkin's deflected game-winning goal during Pittsburgh's 5-4 victory in Game 1 on Friday, causing some of the Rangers to accuse him of diving to set up the power play.

When Crosby went down again in the first period to draw another penalty, Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr -- the former Penguins star -- could be seen yelling at Crosby, "Stand up!"

Asked what he said to Crosby, Jagr said, "Just play hockey, that's all."

New York was 0-for-6 on the power play and is 1-for-9 in the series.

"We need a little more traffic [in front against Fleury]," Renney said. "I'm not going to suggest it was really easy for him, but it certainly could have been tougher. The big thing for us is to create some momentum of our own at MSG and really take this series back."

Fleury bounced back from his worst game of these playoffs to play his best.

"As a goalie, it never feels good to give up four goals, so I wanted to come back and play a good game," he said.

Game notes
The Penguins are 8-2 in home playoff games against the Rangers. New York lost its previous three playoff series against Pittsburgh. ... Pittsburgh has at least one power-play goal in all six playoff games. ... The Penguins have won Game 2 in their last eight playoff series. ... The Rangers last came back from a 2-0 playoff deficit to win a series in 1996, taking the final four against Montreal.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.