Tag: New York Rangers

Mike Johnston, Jim Rutherford, Rick Tocchet

Pens coach draws on personal experience of trailing series 3-1 and winning


Mike Johnston doesn’t need to be told a team can come back from a 3-1 series deficit. Back in 2003, when he was an associate coach with the Canucks, he lived it.

“I remember clearly when I was in Vancouver,” the Penguins coach recalled today, “we were in a series with St. Louis, and we went into St. Louis and won Game 5. And all of a sudden St. Louis had to pack their bags and come back to Vancouver. And they really didn’t want to. They wanted to have a couple of extra days to get ready for the next series.

“A few [Blues] got sick, got the flu, we won Game 6, won Game 7. The series can change so fast. And a lot of our players have been through that. Those are the experiences you need to draw on.”

And what Johnston didn’t mention about 2003 was the Canucks blowing a 3-1 series lead, to Minnesota, in the next round.

Of course, it was the Penguins who led the Rangers 3-1 last year, then proceeded to lose three straight.

“Several of the players have been through the reversal last year,” said Johnston. “They were leading on New York 3-1, and the whole series changed.

“This game going into New York, we win (and) the series changes completely, and it heads in our favor for sure. Just because of the psychological edge, when they’re at home, and we win that game and bring it back here, that’s a whole different series. We need one game, and that’s it.”

The Penguins may be in a deep hole trailing 3-1, but it’s not like they’ve been blown out so far. All four games have been decided by one goal, with last night’s contest going to overtime before Kevin Hayes scored for the Rangers.

“If you look at the way the whole series has gone, it’s just a fine line,” Johnston said afterwards.

Game 5 goes tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET (on NBCSN).

Sather impressed by Hayes’ impact on Rangers

Kevin Hayes, Carl Hagelin

Rangers’ rookie Kevin Hayes netted the overtime winner on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh giving New York a commanding 3-1 series lead heading back to MSG.

It was the 22-year-old’s first career Stanley Cup playoff goal in just his fourth career postseason game.

Hayes, a free agent signing out of Boston College last summer, has been a surprise fit for the Rangers.

“Oh, it would be completely different,” Rangers GM Glen Sather told the New York Post Wednesday night. “Not only wouldn’t we have had him, but we would have had to go out and gotten somebody else [to fill the role as third-line center].”

Hayes had 44 goals and 132 points in 142 games with the Eagles over four seasons. The Blackhawks draft pick was unable to come terms with Chicago making him a free agent last August.

The Boston native had 17 goals and 28 assists in 79 regular season games with the Rangers.

Hayes rookie campaign has surprised even Sather.

“No, I didn’t envision it would happen this quickly,” Sather said. “It’s very rare to be able to do what he’s done. He’s a very smart player, he learns quickly and he’s a great kid.

“The mistake I made was not getting his brother from Chicago,” he said, alluding to Jimmy Hayes, who was in the Blackhawks’ organization for a few years before joining the Florida Panthers last season. “I wanted to, but it just didn’t work out.”

The Rangers can close out their series with the Penguins on Friday night.

Can Penguins repay Rangers for last year’s 3-1 comeback?

Evgeni Malkin

The New York Rangers know what it’s like to come back from a 3-1 series deficit. They’ve done it, most recently against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2014. The roles have been reversed in the 2015 rematch after New York earned a 2-1 overtime win against Pittsburgh in Game 4 tonight, and the Rangers are well aware that the Penguins are no more out of it than they were last year.

Remembering what it was like, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist expects the Penguins to give them everything they’ve got in Game 5 on Friday.

“It’s desperation mode for them and the key is to match that,” Lundqvist said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Seth Rorabaugh. “You have to grab every opportunity you get to finish a series. You can’t just think you have more chances. You’ve got to go for it and match their desperation. It’s tough. Every game here has been one goal and it’s not going to be easy. We have to prepare the right way mentally, physically and get ready for battle.”

There wasn’t a lot of optimism surrounding the Penguins going into this series given the way they limped into the playoffs, but it’s worth remembering that they’ve been competitive in every game in this series. Not much would have had to change for this series to look very different going into Friday’s contest.

Penguins star forward Evgeni Malkin has no points and just five shots on goal so far. If he was having a better series, that alone might have been enough to tip the scale in the Penguins’ favor. As it is, Malkin bouncing back would be enough to give Pittsburgh a fighting chance going forward.

Rangers rookie Hayes is an OT hero, Pens now desperate

Penguins OT loss

The Pittsburgh Penguins enjoyed a strong start against the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the first round series tonight. They did not enjoy the finish as the Rangers secured a 2-1 overtime victory to take a 3-1 series lead.

The Penguins surrendered the opening goal in each of the first three contests, but Patric Hornqvist put them ahead just 2:22 minutes into Game 4:

By the end of the first frame, Pittsburgh had an 8-2 edge in shots and were in position to even the series at home. However, Derick Brassard evened the contest late in the second period on a gritty goal. It was his third of the series and he’s the only multi-goal player on the Rangers so far in the 2015 postseason.

The two sides were unable to settle this contest in the third, but the overtime period didn’t last long. Rangers rookie Kevin Hayes managed to beat goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury after just 3:14 minutes of extra time. It was Hayes’ first career playoff point after recording 17 goals and 45 points in 79 regular season contests.

All four games of this series have been decided by just one goal, but that’s not much of a consolation for Pittsburgh, which is now on the brink of elimination. This series will return to Madison Square Garden on Friday.

Quenneville: ‘It might be the year of the backup goalie’

Scott Darling, Brent Seabrook

Goaltender Corey Crawford has led the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship, but when Chicago attempts to eliminate Nashville on Thursday, he won’t be playing between the pipes. Rookie Scott Darling has been a big part of the first round series and will get another start in Game 5.

It’s an impressive, yet oddly common story this season. If you look at the GAA leaders so far in the 2015 postseason, you won’t see Carey Price or Henrik Lundqvist listed in the top-three. Instead it’s Darling, Devan Dubnyk, and Jake Allen. Three netminders who weren’t in starting roles when the campaign began. Then there’s Petr Mrazek, who shutout the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday to give Detroit a 2-1 series lead.

“It might be the year of the backup goalie this year,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told CSN Chicago. “Somebody you’ve never heard of may get an opportunity and all of a sudden is a key guy. We all know the importance of the goalie and how the guy who is playing well is getting that net. Sometimes it’s competitive with internal competition but at the same time the rapport is excellent [with the normal starter] and it’s a healthy situation to be in.”

The question is if this trend will continue. Dubnyk really can’t be regarded as a backup anymore and that’s been true since Minnesota acquired him, but if Darling, Allen, or Mrazek falter, then their respective teams might not wait long to replace them.

We’ve already seen Ottawa’s Andrew Hammond be relegated to warming the bench despite his tremendous regular season run and Vancouver’s Eddie Lack was yanked early in Tuesday’s contest. Even still, at this point it’s entirely possible that the goaltender who leads his team to a Stanley Cup championship will be one that didn’t hold the starting job at the beginning of the season.