The New York Rangers raced out to a nice start to take a 1-0 lead in Game 5 … and that about covers the positives for Henrik Lundqvist & Co.
The Pittsburgh Penguins ended this first-round series 4-1 thanks to Saturday’s 6-3 rout, winning the last three games in increasingly lopsided ways.
It’s impossible to ignore Henrik Lundqvist’s struggles, even if you pin many of the goals he allowed on his teammates’ inability to contain the Penguins’ speed and skill. Lundqvist will enter the summer in sobering fashion as he was pulled from two straight games.
Let’s face it; the Penguins owned the perennial All-Star in 2015-16. Remember when they made Lundqvist flip out?
The Penguins enjoyed great performances from big guns such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel. Even so, Pittsburgh looks especially dangerous because this team isn’t just leaning on those core scorers.
Indeed, the Penguins saw the likes of Matt Cullen, Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary pitch in goals and other big plays (not to mention a speedy and focused Carl Hagelin).
Things really got out of hand in the second period; a 2-2 tie transformed into a foreboding 6-2 lead for the Rangers pushed back in the final frame but couldn’t beat Matt Murray very often.
Special teams will stand as one of the other key differences between the teams.
The Rangers’ power play was barren …
… While the Penguins’ man advantage was downright prolific, generating at least one power-play goal in each game of the series and eight tallies overall.
Fair or not, this defeat generated a lot of heat on Lundqvist and the Rangers in general.
(Not a good sign when people are writing your sports career obituary.)
Now the Rangers look ahead to an offseason rife with plenty of questions. Meanwhile, the Penguins await the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers in what should be a captivating series either way.
The Rangers had been getting the better of the Penguins lately, yet history is on Pittsburgh’s side: