New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game One

Rangers cough up two-goal lead, recover to beat Penguins in OT

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The New York Rangers have taken the first game of their second-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, despite coughing up a two-goal lead.

The Rangers, coming off a seven-game series win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Round One, opened the scoring, beating Marc-Andre Fleury on just the third shot of the hockey game, but needed overtime to defeat the Penguins by a final score of 3-2 on Friday.

Derick Brassard scored the winning goal at the 3:06 mark of the extra period. His shot beat Fleury on the stick side, however, because the puck hit up near the crossbar, play was allowed to continue.  Benoit Pouliot buried the puck a few seconds later on a scramble in front of the Pittsburgh net, but, following a review, the goal was given to Brassard.

Here is an explanation from the NHL’s Situation Room Blog:

At 3:13 of overtime in the New York Rangers/Pittsburgh Penguins game, Benoit Pouliot’s shot appeared to end the game. However, video review determined that Derick Brassard’s shot at 3:06 of overtime hit the back bar of the net after it crossed the goal line. Therefore the official winning goal is credited to Brassard at 3:06. Good goal New York Rangers.

Make of this what you will, but that’s back-to-back games to begin the second round in the Eastern Conference, in which the visiting team has taken the first game of the semifinal series. The Montreal Canadiens stunned the Boston Bruins in overtime in their series-opener on Thursday.

The evening didn’t get off to a good start for Fleury, who was beaten twice on 13 first-period shots. New York’s second goal came just after a questionable offside call.

However, the Penguins managed to come back in the second period. Lee Stempniak got Pittsburgh on the board, before James Neal tied the game on a goal the Rangers protested – the thinking was that Pittsburgh forward Evgeni Malkin knocked the puck out of the air with a high stick.

Fleury finished the game with 24 saves, while Henrik Lundqvist, under siege at times through the final two periods, made 34 saves for the win.

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

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As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.