Penguins need 60 minutes — not just 20 — of desperation

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Trailing the New York Rangers 2-1 in their first-round series, the Pittsburgh Penguins should be a desperate team tonight at Consol Energy Center. Lose and they’ll face elimination Friday at MSG.

The challenge will be to channel that desperation into a much better start than they had Monday, when they got outshot 7-3 in the first period and 12-8 in the second. The Rangers opened a 2-0 lead in those two periods, and the Penguins could only muster one goal in the third.

“Our desperation level was much higher in the third, and you saw the difference in our game and our play,” said captain Sidney Crosby. “Sometimes it’s hard to realize what you are doing in the first or second means as much as it does, but you have to find that desperation for the entire game.”

When asked for the key to tonight’s game, veteran forward Maxim Lapierre told reporters, “It’s pretty simple — play like we did in the third period last game.”

Now, granted, part of the reason the Penguins were able to outplay the Rangers in those final 20 minutes was because their opponents sat back in protection of a two-goal lead. It was bound to happen, and it did.

In addition to desperation, the Penguins just need to hit the net more. Yesterday, coach Mike Johnston referenced the “35 shot attempts that were blocked or missed (in Game 3). Those are the ones we have to get eight or nine of those to the net, for sure. You can’t have 35 that are blocked or missed.”

The two teams get going at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Related: Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight