Pens’ Rutherford to columnist: ‘You’re a (expletive) jerk’

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Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has had enough.

Following multiple columns from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Rob Rossi, Rutherford confronted the writer in an elevator on Monday night.

Here’s the backstory.

Nearly two weeks ago, Rossi wrote a column typically reserved for a team that failed to qualify for the playoffs. Rossi criticized Rutherford, who is in his first season at the helm with the Penguins, for a number of failures.

Then last Wednesday, on Day 1 of the playoffs, Rossi wrote a column in defense of head coach Mike Johnston, the gist being that it was Rutherford, not Johnston, to blame for the Penguins’ failures.

Following Monday night’s 2-1 loss to the Rangers, Rossi and Rutherford shared an elevator at the Consol Energy Center, which is when the Pens’ executive apparently decided to fire back at the reporter.

Here’s the exchange, according to Rossi:

After exiting a media elevator and while walking with other reporters to the Penguins’ dressing room, Rutherford addressed this columnist, a frequent critic since his hiring last June, in an obscenity-laced diatribe.

“Thanks for your support,” Rutherford said repeatedly.

“You’re a (expletive) jerk,” Rutherford said repeatedly.

Rutherford followed the jerk comment with a suggestion to “go sell ice cream now,” then a challenge to look him in the eye, which I did while explaining my role as Trib Total Media’s lead sports columnist.

My role is to provide opinion.

“Well, your opinion is (expletive),” Rutherford said.

Perhaps the Penguins can channel their GM’s aggression into a win Wednesday night as they look to even their series with the Rangers at two.

Too little, too late: Rangers stifle Penguins for 2-1 series lead

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Was Game 3 about the New York Rangers’ smothering defense or merely a listless start by the Pittsburgh Penguins?

Whatever the answer may be – possibly a combination of the two – the Penguins gave the Consol Energy Center crowd little to cheer for until the late stages of a 2-1 Rangers win. New York also earned itself a 2-1 series lead with this decision.

After combining for eight shots on goal in the first period of Game 2, the Rangers and Penguins only had 10 in the opening frame (seven for New York).

That hardly bothered the road Rangers, though, as they cruised to a 2-0 lead through the first 40 minutes of the game. In that span, the Penguins managed just 11 shots on goal and often looked dead-legged and/or disinterested. There were some moments in which officiating came into question, yet the overall effort was spotty nonetheless.

The third period was a different story, but not enough to change the outcome.

Pittsburgh turned it on quite a bit, especially after Patric Hornqvist made it 2-1. There were some hectic moments at the end, yet Henrik Lundqvist & Co. held strong for an important win.

After all the positive vibes and talk of “mental edges,” the Penguins seemed to wake up too late in this one. Now they find themselves in a crucial Game 4 in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

You hear the “60-minute effort” cliche a lot, yet that might be a fair thing to trot out after a late arrival like this.

Speaking of starts, here’s Mike Milbury’s interesting take on the game:

Video: Fleury keeps Penguins alive with big save

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have been sluggish enough to earn Bronx cheers at home so far tonight, but Marc-Andre Fleury is a big reason why they’re only down 2-0 to the New York Rangers heading into the third.

That manageable – if still troubling – gap was maintained thanks to Fleury’s sprawling save on Derek Stepan:

Call it half skill and half luck (or something like that), but the Penguins aren’t that far from making a game of this in the final 20 minutes of regulation, and they can thank Fleury for some of that hope.

Video: Rangers exploit lax Penguins line change for Hagelin goal

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So much for the mental edge?

The Pittsburgh Penguins have gone a long time without a shot on goal against the New York Rangers in Game 3, and the road team has a 1-0 lead when Keith Yandle and Carl Hagelin combined to make the Penguins pay for a really bad line change:

Yikes.

Yikes Part 2.

Report: Rangers’ Klein (arm) to miss Game 3

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Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein will remain out of New York’s lineup tonight as the series moves to Pittsburgh for Game 3.

Klein has been out sidelined with an arm injury since March 11 and according to Andrew Gross of The Record, Klein will miss his 19th game tonight.

The 30-year-old travelled with the Rangers to Pittsburgh, but has yet to skate in a full practice with his teammates.

The Rangers are expected to hold a full morning skate today at Consol Energy Center.

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.

Puck drop tonight is at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.