The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers battled fiercely for five games. Each contest was determined by just one goal and the final two went to overtime.
But at the end of the day, the Penguins could only win once and the Rangers officially eliminated them with a 2-1 victory tonight.
Carl Hagelin scored the overtime marker:
This is the sixth straight year Pittsburgh couldn’t get it done in the playoffs. This time around though, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury wasn’t the story. He did all that could be expected of him in this series, posting a 2.12 GAA and .927 save percentage in five contests.
Instead fingers will likely be pointed at Evgeni Malkin, who fired six shots on goal Friday night but still finished the series without a single point. The Penguins lacked offensive depth in this series as well as Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist accounted for half of Pittsburgh’s eight goals.
At the same time, it would be wrong to ignore the fact that the Penguins were missing defensemen Kris Letang, Christian Ehrhoff, and Olli Maatta as well as forwards Pascal Dupuis and Beau Bennett due to injuries. That’s a lot of talent to be stuck on the sidelines.
Still, another Penguins season that began with Stanley Cup aspirations is over while the Presidents’ Trophy winning Rangers are moving forward. The Rangers fell in the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. They’re one step closer to getting back there now.
Click here for playoff highlight videos
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.
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:
The parade to the penalty box continued for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and that might come back to haunt them later in this series if it continues that way.
However, against the New York Rangers on Saturday, Pittsburgh’s busy penalty kill was successful on six of seven chances and that was huge as the Penguins were able to limit New York for the most part at even strength in a 4-3 victory in Game 2.
The win for Pittsburgh evens the series at 1-1. The Penguins trailed after the first period, but took over with three second-period goals. Brandon Sutter, on the power play, got it going.
It helped, too, that Sidney Crosby, with one goal in 19 post-season games prior to Saturday, scored twice, including a beauty re-direction as he charged to the front of the net late in the second period.
His first of the evening was a combination of being in the right place at the right time — being left alone in front of the net, too — and a nice feed from Patric Hornqvist.
There were some anxious moments for the Penguins and their fans in the third period, when Crosby, who has a concussion history, was slow to get up and to the bench after a collision with Carl Hagelin in open ice.
Crosby finished the remainder of the game.
Eight seconds after the Pittsburgh Penguins thought they opened the scoring, only to have video review prove inconclusive and confirm a no-goal call on the ice, Casey Cizikas scored for the New York Islanders on a short-handed breakaway.
That gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead over the Penguins before the midway point of the first period in a crucial game for Pittsburgh. That was the score after 20 minutes, despite Pittsburgh coming away with a 17-5 edge in shots. A win in any fashion over New York in Game 81 of the season would secure a playoff spot for the struggling Penguins.
Here’s the explanation for the Pittsburgh no-goal call from the NHL:
At 7:52 of the first period in the New York Islanders/Pittsburgh Penguins game, the referee initiated a video review to further examine a play at the Islanders net. Video review was inconclusive in determining if Patric Hornqvist’s shot completely crossed the Islanders goal line. Therefore the on-ice decision stands – no goal Pittsburgh.