The Pittsburgh Penguins limped into the playoffs and that combined with the Penguins missing defensemen Christian Ehrhoff, Kris Letang, Derrick Pouliot, and Olli Maatta to a variety of injuries led to them being cast as the underdogs in their first round series against the New York Rangers.
Of course, as long as the Penguins feature Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, they can’t be ruled out entirely, but they weren’t able to take advantage of the fresh start that the playoffs afforded them.
The Rangers needed just 28 seconds to take a 1-0 lead as Derick Brassard took advantage of a big rebound created by Rick Nash’s shot:
The silver lining when it comes to falling behind early is there is plenty of time to regain the lead. That being said, the Penguins were 10-18-5 in games when they fell behind 1-0 in the regular season.
News and notes from around the crease…
Pens need Fleury to come up big
It’s been a tough go for Marc-Andre Fleury lately — he’s allowed at least four goals in six of his last 10 games, with the Pens going 3-5-2 over that stretch. What’s more, Pittsburgh’s defense has been decimated to where it’ll feature just five — yes, five — healthy skaters tonight when the Islanders come into Consol.
Which puts pressure on Fleury to come up with a clutch performance.
At the very least, Fleury will need to be better against the Isles tonight than in his three previous outings this season (1-1-1, 3.26 GAA, .904 save percentage). But the circumstances don’t bode well. Pittsburgh’s depleted defense has resulted in high shot totals — Fleury’s faced an average of 33.8 in his last five games — and New York is one of the NHL’s most prolific offensive teams, currently sitting fourth in goals per game (including 10 in its last three.)
For the Isles, Jaroslav Halak will get the start in goal.
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Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury only survived 27:44 minutes against the Detroit Red Wings. Given the 4-0 score in favor of Detroit at the time Fleury was yanked, it’s hard to fault Penguins coach Mike Johnston for wanting to change things up.
It’s also hard to blame that score on Fleury.
The Penguins have played an undisciplined game, which led to the Red Wings enjoying an extended 5-on-3 advantage that Marek Zidlicky took advantage of 39 seconds into the second period. Then there’s the Henrik Zetterberg goal he was pulled for, which was arguably the result of poor defensive work rather than an error on Fleury’s part:
The first goal would have been a tough one for Fleury to stop given that it was a tip in by Riley Sheahan. Perhaps the marker that could be most pinned on Fleury was Teemu Pulkkinen’s blast late in the second period:
At the same time, this is the second straight game that Fleury has allowed four goals following Pittsburgh’s 6-4 win over Edmonton on Thursday.