Rangers recapture series lead with strong defensive effort in Pittsburgh
The Rangers needed a win in Game 3 in the first game of the series in Pittsburgh, and the road warrior Rangers played very well, coming away with a 2-1 victory to recapture home ice as well as taking a 2-1 series lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Tonight’s game marked the 38th time in the past five postseasons that the Rangers have been involved in a game decided by one goal.
After a Game 2 where the Rangers seemed to lack the killer instinct and effort the Penguins brought, tonight was refreshing to watch. The Rangers were aggressively forechecking from the puck drop, and really pinned the Penguins in their own zone for the first two periods, not allowing a shot on goal for the first 15:10 of the game.
Henrik Lundqvist was back in net for New York, determined to get them back on track with a win. Henrik had a good track record following losses in the playoffs. Since the start of the 2012 Playoffs, Lundqvist is 16-10 with a 1.81 GAA along with a .935 save percentage, and 4 shutouts in 26 playoff appearances following a loss.
And he added a win to that total following a spectacular performance tonight to stymie the Penguins. Most of his saves came late in the game, including a few gorgeous right pad saves, most notably a great save on Sidney Crosby alone in front. When Pittsburgh was throwing everything at Lundqvist, he kept practically everything out.
On top of a strong performance by Lundqvist, the defensive effort was fantastic in this game, with two defenders in particular standing out. Keith Yandle, who missed the morning skate with flu-like symptoms, had quite a few strong defensive shifts, including some late in the game. His pass to Carl Hagelin on the first goal of the game was fantastic, and he played really well.
But Dan Girardi stole the show for the Rangers, playing one of his best games of the season. Girardi was just really solid defensively, making smart decisions with the puck, shutting down Crosby and Malkin for most of the game. He blocked six shots, had four hits, played for a team high 26:06, and added two assists on top of all of that.
The Rangers’ fourth line was also outstanding tonight. Often matched up against Sidney Crosby and his line, they did a superb job pinning them back in their own zone, creating some chances of their own, and using their forecheck to generate momentum. It was a great showing from Dominic Moore, Jesper Fast and Tanner Glass. Fast even got some late game minutes, showcasing his defensive prowess and his coach’s trust in his play.
The first period appeared to be similar to the second game, with neither team giving each other much room. But it slowly turned into the Rangers completely dominating the period with puck possession. All of that would eventually turn into a goal around nine minutes into the game, and it was Carl Hagelin scoring the first goal of the game, and his first of the playoffs.
Dan Girardi and Keith Yandle had the puck in the Rangers’ defensive zone when they read the fact that the Penguins were about to make a line change. Keith Yandle made an unbelievable pass through the neutral zone to Hagelin, who was skating at full speed. On a breakaway, Hagelin hammered home a slap shot through the legs of Fleury, giving New York a 1-0 lead.
Pittsburgh’s best chance came from Sidney Crosby, when his one timer from in close rang off of the post. Other than that, Pittsburgh managed only three shots on goal in the period, with really no quality scoring chances. It must have been totally demoralizing in the locker room to come off of their performance in Game 2 and not have a shot on goal for 15 minutes.
The second period was much of the same, with the Rangers dictating the pace of play, getting the better scoring chances, and limiting what the Pittsburgh Penguins could do. Again, all of their forechecking, offensive pressure, and strong defensive play led to another goal.
After carrying the puck into the zone, the Rangers quick decision making helped lead to the goal. They quickly cycled the puck across the blue line, and Marc Staal got it at the point. Staal purposely shot the puck wide for a rebound off of the boards, and that is exactly what happened. Chris Kreider tapped in a bouncing puck out of midair from the side of the net to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead, a lead that they carried into the final period.
New York had their chances early on here as well, with Dan Girardi just missing a shot from close in on an open net, and Derek Stepan also having a similar chance stolen away from him by a defender. In the last 10 to 12 minutes of the period, Pittsburgh came alive and began heavily pressuring Lundqvist and the Rangers.
The Penguins would get 13 shots on goal in this period, compared to the 11 they had in the first two periods combined.
You could feel the pressure mounting, and it eventually led to a Pittsburgh goal. A shot from Sidney Crosby was blocked in front, and there was a huge scramble for the puck, with a few guys unaware where it had landed. Patric Hornqvist got to it first, shooting it past an unsuspecting Lundqvist to cut the lead to one.
With the net empty, Pittsburgh pressuring and firing shots on net, some big saves by Lundqvist and a solid defensive effort helped close out the win in a crucial Game 3.
The Rangers and Penguins will meet again at the CONSOL Energy Arena on Wednesday for Game 4.
1) Dan Girardi – 2 A, 2 SOG, 6 BS, 4 HT, 26:06 TOT
2) Henrik Lundqvist – 23 SV, .958 SV%
3) Chris Kreider – 1 G, 2 HT, 14:57 TOT
Posted on April 21, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged Alain Vigneault, Cam Talbot, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Dominic Moore, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Lundqvist, James Sheppard, Jesper Fast, JT Miller, Keith Yandle, Kevin Hayes, Kevin Klein, King Henrik, Madison Square Garden, Marc Staal, Marc-Andre Fleury, Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello, Matt Hunwick, MSG, MSL, New York Rangers, NHL, NHL 2014-2015 Season, NHL Playoffs, NY Rangers, NYR, Pittsburgh Penguins, Rangers, Rangers Nation, Rangerstown, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Sidney Crosby, Stanley Cup Playoffs, Tanner Glass, The Ranger Zone. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.