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.