By: Casey Shea

With a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers, the Pittsburgh Penguins extended their winning streak to seven games and improved to 9-0-1 in their last 10 games.

That bears repeating.

The Penguins, the team that was struggling to start the season, the team that made everyone think CONSOL was cursed, the team that everyone was writing off a month ago…that same team is 9-0-1 in their last 10.

Oh, and they’re now tied with the Philadelphia Flyers for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

After the game ended I sent the obligatory “We own MSG” text to my die-hard Ranger fan buddy, Gopher (yes, it’s a nickname). His response summed up what my general feeling is about the Rangers’ fan base right now.

“You’re not going to get me emotionally fired up over the Rangers this year.”

Try as I might to get some reaction out of him, it was for naught.

Can you blame him though? Did any of the Rangers fans last night at Madison Square Garden appear interested in the game at all?I know it was slow going early on and I’m sure the Max Talbot goal off a brutal turnover deep in the Rangers’ end stunned everyone, but come on.

Two fights, a late second period goal by your star sniper, Marian Gaborik, and a big push in the third barely got a rise out of the crowd. Based on this, I can’t discredit Gopher for contemplating throwing in the towel already.

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(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Anyway, Marc-Andre Fleury turned in another sparkling performance, making 25 saves, to improve to 8-0-1 in his last nine games. The Flower is now 9-6-1 with a 2.47GAA and .908 save percentage.

Sidney Crosby extended his point streak to 13 games with an assist on Kris Letang’s eventual game-winning goal. The entire shift leading up the goal, you could just tell something good was going to come of it. Crosby was a machine in the game and you can tell when he’s feeling it, because the flashy moves and passes are paying off.

107201570 8 Shea ved Ice: Pens Find 7th Heaven On Broadway

(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

It was also nice to see Chris Conner get his second goal since being recalled by the Pens. The goal came in familiar territory as he potted two goals at MSG last season in one game.

Chris Kunitz also had a solid game. Had the Pens gone on to lose that game, he’d probably be having nightmares. In the second period, he undressed Henrik Lundqvist and a defenseman, had King Henrik down on his face with an empty net and found a way to ring it off the iron. Things like that are going to happen from time to time, luckily for him the Penguins won the game.

I was stunned to see Sean Avery actually drop the gloves and man up for once. For a supposed “agitator” his “antics” are anything but. Matt Cooke is an agitator that you hate to play against, but love to have on your squad.

I would not want Avery to be on my team. Ever.

According to (a site great for wasting hours upon hours of your day), Avery has five fighting majors this season. Opponents include, Mark Stuart (Boston), Ladislav Smid (Edmonton), Mattias Ohlund (Tampa Bay), Jordin Tootoo (Nashville) and Tyler Kennedy last night.

The only name that jumps off the page as a “tough guy” is Tootoo, who easily won the bout. The fight against Ohlund was nothing major as Avery tried to jump him after Ohlund dropped a booming open ice hit on Erik Christensen.

If you haven’t seen the incident with Smid, check it out. Avery delivers a clean hit, Smid challenges him, Avery gives the impression that he’s not going to drop the gloves, lets Smid relax and then attacks.

Is it a sucker punch? It’s debatable either way, but in my mind if you’re going to accept the challenge to fight, you do it when initially engaged. Don’t let the other guy think you’re not going to oblige and then pounce.

In Boston, Stuart leveled Ruslan Fedotenko in the neutral zone and who comes to the rescue? Yep, Avery. Enough said.

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(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

At least last night against Kennedy, there was some agreement made before the faceoff to go at it. It appeared to be the first fair start to a fight yet this season for Avery.

Nothing is going to change and he’ll continue to play the game the way he always has.

Now, the Penguins have a couple days off before taking on the Atlanta Thrashers at CONSOL on Thursday. The Pens won the previous meeting 4-2 on Nov. 13.

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