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Rangers drop Game Two to Penguins at MSG; Brassard scores again

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs penguins game 2 lundqvist 4-18

The Rangers and the Penguins met again for Game Two at MSG, and the Penguins were able to pick up a win of their own tonght and send the series to Pittsburgh tied at one. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Looking to string together two straight playoff wins, the Rangers were outplayed at home by the Pittsburgh Penguins, dropping Game Two by a final score of 4-3, partially due to an inept power play and subpar possession at five on five.

The big problem here was special teams. In the game, the Rangers had seven power play opportunities, scoring on just one of them. The Penguins were much more effective, scoring on their first two power play opportunities, and two of four for the night.

This was a much tighter game defensively. After the first period ended, shots were just 5-3 in favor of Pittsburgh, with the only goal coming from the Rangers. The Penguins really shut down the Rangers at even strength for most of the game, with 13 of the Rangers first 20 shots coming on the power play, and seven of those 13 shots coming on the sixth power play chance, which was a goal.

From the get go, it was easy to see the Penguins would be playing with desperation and pressing hard, very hard. The Rangers were a bit sloppy with the puck, but it was pretty solid from both sides in the first.

But finally, the Rangers broke through with the first goal of the game, and it was Derek Stepan scoring his first goal of the playoffs with less than three minutes to play in the first period.

derek stepan goal celebration 4-18

Derek Stepan celebrates after scoring his first goal of the playoffs with just minutes remaining in the first period. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

On a gorgeous passing play, Ryan McDonagh hit JT Miller with a pass at the blueline, and Miller made a fantastic cross-ice pass to Stepan, who was streaking towards the net. Stepan’s shot went bar down, beating Fleury for the opening goal of the game, and sending New York into the locker room with the lead.

With the assist, Ryan McDonagh has now tallied 19 points (5-14-19) in his last 17 playoff games, and has 10 points (2-8-10) in his last 10 regular season and playoff games. McDonagh had another solid game, and has been a force on the ice in the early stages of this series.

The second period was where it began to fall apart for the Rangers. With a power play carrying over, New York could not score, and Pittsburgh’s Brandon Sutter hit the post on a shorthanded chance shortly after. Then Carl Hagelin was called for a tripping penalty, although Taylor Chorney just slipped on his own.

On that power play, Brandon Sutter cashed in on a juicy rebound to tie the game at one. Chris Kunitz’s shot hit Steve Downie and bounced into the air. When it fell, Sutter seemed to be the only one who knew where it was. He caught Lundqvist going the wrong way and hammered the rebound home for his first goal of the playoffs.

Then four minutes later, Sidney Crosby scored his first goal of the playoffs. Chris Kunitz made a nice pass to Hornqvist who beat Dan Boyle and Martin St. Louis to get a shot at Lundqvist. It was saved, but Hornqvist had the presence of mind to pass it over to Sidney Crosby for a tap in, giving the Penguins a 2-1 lead.

A few minutes later, Crosby scored again following a bad defensive zone turnover. Kevin Hayes missed the puck along the boards, allowing Paul Martin to keep it in and get it over to Kunitz. Kunitz passed it to Crosby for a diving tip-in, and Pittsburgh had a 3-1 lead heading into the final period.

In the third period, the Rangers would finally score on a power play opportunity, their sixth chance of the game, and it was Derick Brassard scoring yet again. New York had seven shots on goal on this man advantage, never hesitating to get the puck on net. On the goal, an initial shot was blocked, bouncing out to the point for Yandle. He quickly passed it to Zuccarello for a one timer, and Brassard scored on the rebound off of Fleury’s pad, cutting the lead to just one.

derick brassard goal celebration 4-18

The Rangers scored just one power play goal, and it was Derick Brassard finding the back of the net again. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The Rangers got some momentum after the goal, carrying it into their next power play. Derek Stepan fired a shot off of the post, but the Rangers got no shots on goal. Slowly the Penguins began to reestablish themselves, until Kevin Hayes was called for a hooking penalty.

On that power play, Chris Kunitz scored a goal of his own to go along with his two assists. Brandon Sutter carried the puck deep, attempting a wraparound and getting the puck on net. Lundqvist made the initial save but left a rebound for Kunitz, a goal that put the Rangers back in a big hole.

New York would get one goal with 5.1 seconds remaining from Rick Nash. Derek Stepan shot the puck towards Fleury, and it bounced off of a defenseman’s skate. Nash backhanded the puck top shelf with 5.1 seconds remaining. But it was too little, too late.

The power play really was the key here. The Rangers looked downright awful on the man advantage at times, missing tons of opportunities to bury Pittsburgh early. In the series, New York is just two for 12 on the power play, representing a lot of missed opportunities. They aren’t shooting enough, and when they did pepper Fleury with shots, they scored on the man advantage. When Pittsburgh is scoring on their first two chances, something needs to change so the Rangers can start capitalizing on these opportunities.

Derick Brassard continues his success both in the postseason and against the Penguins. Brass leads the Rangers with 26 playoff points since 2013, and has 11 points (7-4-10) in his last 14 postseason games. He has a point in all six games against the Penguins this season, with four goals and three assists in that span.

I thought JT Miller had a fantastic game. He drew a penalty early, made a fantastic pass on the Stepan goal, and was physical and involved from the start of the game. Miller has looked really good in the first two games, and is handling his top six role very well.

JT Miller 4-18

JT Miler had a strong game tongiht, setting up Stepan’s goal and making his presence known. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

This game was an anomaly. The Rangers don’t play like this too often, and hopefully they use this as a wakeup call as they head into Pittsburgh.

The Rangers will play in Pittsburgh for Game Three this Monday.

THREE STARS

1) Derick Brassard – 1 G, +1, 19:46 TOT

2) JT Miller – 1 A, 3 HT, 13:16 TOT

3) Ryan McDonagh – 1 A, 4 HT, 26:25 TOT

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Posted on April 19, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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