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.