Shot Attempts: 51 Pittsburgh Penguins – 44 New York Rangers
Scoreboard: 2-1, New York Rangers
(For more recap flavor, check out @DXTraeger's original beauty.)
Game 3 of Penguins-Rangers found the Penguins struggling with familiar foes: line changes; stick penalties; shot generation; and Marc Staal’s advanced knowledge of the new NHL rulebook, which the Penguins cannot seem to get their hands on.
Early in the first, it appeared the Penguins had a fighting chance, but Ian Cole’s crosschecking penalty (bringing the balance of penalties to 13-5 Penguins, one match they don’t want to be winning), shifted momentum for the period, and the Penguins never seemed to get back.
Penguins managed to kill off the penalty, allowing no Rangers shots, but soon afterward Crosby was interfered with by Yandle, and the Penguins got caught in a sloppy line change, which led almost directly to a Hagelin goal. 1-0 Rangers.
Hark! In the distance! The Pegnuins’ first shot appears! What’s that? Was it on the Nash penalty for high-sticking Crosby 15 minutes into the first? No. Later than that. Ben Lovejoy. A low-danger shot from center ice that Lundqvist gloved. The Pens’ best chance in the first came after Crosby rang a shot off the post—a shot that had Lundqvist beat but couldn’t find the goal—but, as twitter will remind you, it still wasn’t a shot on goal. Or, well, a goal.
Total shots in the period: 7 New York Rangers, 3 Pittsburgh Penguins. It was as riveting as it sounds.
In the second, Malkin’s rough day with the puck was in full view. A couple of turnovers early, including an attempt to put the puck on his stick with his hand that ended up on a Rangers’ stick.
The referees called no penalties for an entire nine minutes in the second, which I am not sure is legal, but if you are watching the Penguins for their penalty killing, do not fear, because Paul Martin was called for a pretty blatant crosscheck to back of Mats Zuccarello.
I don’t watch penalty kills during the playoffs*, because I sit on my bathroom floor and turn the fan on so I can’t even kind of hear the television, but if I DID watch them, I could tell you that the Penguins’ penalty kill was very aggressive, spending some time in the Rangers’ end, including a shot on goal by Max Lapierre, who showed impressive awareness to get the puck around the stick of Brassard, who had gone to the ice to block the shot.
* I kid. I totally watched tonight, because I was writing this recap. Any other night? You can find me in the bathroom.
Later, the Rangers tallied their second goal. A beauty by Chris Kreider, who took the puck right off the end boards, onto his stick, and put it in Fleury’s net. 2-0 Rangers.
This is when the lines got weird. Crosby with Comeau? Crosby with Downie? I would say Johnston was throwing stuff at the wall until something stuck, but he didn’t let anything go long enough to stick to the wall.
With less than two minutes left in the period, Marc Staal was called for interference, which was a shock to him, as he had been informed the referees would not, in fact, be calling interference during the post season. You gotta feel for Staal here; I was confused, too. He needn’t have worried, however. The Penguins would not even pretend they were trying to score.
End of 2. 2-0 Rangers. Shots: 19 New York Rangers, 11 Pittsburgh Penguins.
To start the third, the Penguins had four seconds of leftover power play time, which didn’t even lead to extended zone time.
About halfway through the period (okay, fine, a quarter of the way through the period), everyone started talking about the Winnipeg Jets’ first playoff game. We are all Winnipeg, unless you are not Winnipeg and you are, in fact, a Canadian fan who only roots for your Canadian team, or you are an American fan who is a fan of another team, or you are a Leafs fan who rose to prominence blogging about statistics so you’re sort of rooting for the Penguins except you hate them but they look good on paper but their defense is so bad but really you hate Winnipeg so [aggressively blogs about something else].
The Penguins, perhaps by virtue of being down two goals, were finally able to get some extended pressure on Lundqvist, with Malkin and Crosby’s line both starting to light the fire. But it was Crosby’s line, with a goal from Hornqvist at 13:12, that would break the Pens’ scoreless streak.
The goal was too little, too late, as the Penguins’ last minute scramble in front of the net proved fruitless. The Rangers take a 2-1 lead in the series, and Penguins fans can, at least, hope their team plays better than this next game.
Things to Watch
+ Will Pouliot return? If Pouliot returns, will he unseat the right defenseman?
+ Malkin said his game is at 85%. That’s sounding like wishful thinking. Will his back survive the ride it’s giving David Perron?
+ When will the Penguins’ power play return from war?