Fleury frustrates Rangers, Penguins grab 2-1 series lead

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Heading into Game 3, the big question was if a lack of rest would doom the New York Rangers. Instead, it came down to their inability to beat Marc-Andre Fleury — the Pittsburgh netminder posted a second consecutive shutout for a 2-0 Penguins win, and 2-1 series lead.

“Score effects” might account for some of the story (at least in the third period), but the shot totals would almost argue that the Rangers were the team with more lift in their legs. They carried a 35-15 shot advantage, yet they simply couldn’t solve “The Flower” tonight.

OK, the 29-year-old goalie got a little lucky at times, but there’s no denying his brilliance in Game 3:

In the process, Fleury pulled off a rare feat:

The Penguins’ offense was pretty quiet but took advantage of two breakaway opportunities as Sidney Crosby finally broke through and Jussi Jokinen scored the 2-0 insurance goal.

While the unit created plenty of opportunities, the Rangers’ power play still remains a conundrum. They’ve now gone eight straight playoff games without a goal and find themselves mired in an 0-for-34 slump.

The Rangers have to feel a little bit of grief in losing despite an impressive team performance in Game 3 and great work from Henrik Lundqvist in Game 2. (It’s difficult to beat up Lundqvist too much for allowing two breakaway goals tonight, either.)

Despite seeing a 1-0 series lead switch to a 2-1 deficit in two nights, the Rangers can at least hang their hats on a nice performance and will get the usual amount of rest with Game 4 on Wednesday.

That optimism will dim considerably if they can’t tie the series then, though.