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: