The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins combined for just eight shots on goal in the opening period, but given a little extra space and time, New York’s Derek Stepan converted on one of the few chances.
Speeding down the ride side, Stepan ripped a perfect wrist shot over the right shoulder of Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead with 2:55 remaining in the opening period.
New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein, who has been out of the lineup since mid-March, is nearing a return.
Klein has been sidelined with an arm injury after blocking an Alex Ovechkin shot on March 11 in Washington.
Prior to suffering the injury, Klein was having a career year offensively with career highs in goals (nine) and points (26) in 65 regular season games.
The Rangers host the Penguins tonight in Game 2 before the series moves to Pittsburgh for Game 3 on Monday.
A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action…
Red Wings at Lightning 3 p.m. ET on NBC/NBCSN
The Lightning will look to even their best of seven series with the Red Wings tonight and snap a six-game playoff losing streak in the process. Tampa out-shot Detroit 46-14 in Game 1, but could not solve Petr Mrazek falling 3-2 on Thursday night. John Forslund and Andy Brickley have the call of Game 2.
Wild at Blues 3 p.m. ET on NBC/NBCSN
The St. Louis Blues have won just one of 19 playoff series when losing both Games 1 and 2, and have been swept 10 times. They’ll look to even the best of seven with the Minnesota Wild this afternoon following a 4-2 loss in Game 1 on Thursday. An area of concern for the Blues is their power play. St. Louis is 4-for-67 with the man advantage in its last 18 playoff games. Dave Strader and Brian Engblom will be on the call.
Penguins at Rangers 8 p.m. ET on NBC
The New York Rangers are 22-6 in series when winning Game 1 on home ice and will look to take a 2-0 stranglehold on their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight following a 2-1 victory on Thursday. The Rangers are looking for a fifth straight playoff victory against the Penguins. New York fell behind 3-1 in last spring’s second round series, but won three straight to advance to the Eastern Conference final. Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire have the call tonight.
Jets at Ducks 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
The Winnipeg Jets will look to contain Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf as they try to even their best of seven series with the Anaheim Ducks. Perry and Getzlaf combined for three goals and four assists in the Ducks 4-2 come from behind win in Game 1. The Jets enter tonight’s action still looking for their first playoff win since moving to Winnipeg from Atlanta. Dave Randorf, Garry Galley and Cassie Campbell-Pascall will be on the call.
The Pittsburgh Penguins limped into the playoffs due in part to a battered defense and a drop in performance from goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Neither was the issue in Pittsburgh’s 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the first round series.
While Fleury did surrender the opening goal just 28 seconds into the contest on a juicy rebound, he was solid for the most part, turning aside 36 of 38 shots on goal. In the end, the Penguins just couldn’t find a way to get much going against the Rangers or netminder Henrik Lundqvist.
At least the Penguins can say that they played better in the final 40 minutes of this contest, if only because they set the bar low in the first period. After Derick Brassard gave the Rangers the early lead, Pittsburgh got into penalty trouble, taking four minors over the course of the opening frame. That kept Sidney Crosby off the ice for much of the first. It also led to New York’s Ryan McDonagh scoring what proved to be the game-winning goal:
Pittsburgh’s Blake Comeau kept things interesting with his marker at 6:15 of the second period. Crosby and Evgeni Malkin combined for just three shots on goal.
If there is a silver lining in this for the Penguins, it’s that the first round is just getting started. If they take Game 2 on Saturday then they’ll be in a solid position for when the series heads to Pittsburgh.
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.