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Rangers fall to Penguins on the road; Lundqvist injured

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs penguins 3-3

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After winning three games in a row, the Rangers (37-21-6) dropped the first game of their road trip, falling to the rival Pittsburgh Penguins (33-22-8) by a score of 4-1 in an important divisional matchup.

The Rangers opened up the scoring but fell victim to three Penguin goals in 1:39. That small lapse cost them the game, as they were pretty good for the rest of the night. The Penguins also scored on the penalty kill, an area where the Rangers continue to struggle.

The first period didn’t see any goals, but the pace and action was that of a playoff game. Both teams were skating quickly and efficiently, the passing was crisp and accurate, and there was a ton of big hits. Ian Cole laid out Viktor Stalberg, Dylan McIlrath obliterated Tom Kuhnhackl, and Viktor Stalberg hit Kevin Porter into the boards.

Both goalies were also incredibly sharp, and Henrik Lundqvist made some really high quality saves. Hank made two big saves early on Trevor Daley and Patric Hornqvist, and then a lunging blocker save on Nick Bonino. Eric Staal had the best chance for the Rangers, but Marc-Andre Fleury made a nice save there. He finished with nine saves in the period, while Lundqvist turned aside all seven shots he faced.

The second period was pure insanity, with both teams combining for 29 shots on goal and four goals. The Rangers had a plethora of early chances, but Fleury made some really good save to keep his team ahead. Oscar Lindberg re-directed a pass just wide of the net, and Kevin Hayes’ one-timer was robber by the glove of Fleury. Dom Moore had a great chance in front, but Fleury made an aggressive move to poke the puck away from Moore and prevent a chance. Eric Staal almost snuck a shot past Fleury for his first goal as a Ranger, but the Penguins goaltender made sure to close up his pads and keep it out of the net.

Sidney Crosby took a penalty with just over five minutes remaining, which is where most of the action in this period took place. The Rangers didn’t score on the power play, but Chris Kreider came off the bench and scored the opening goal of the game Zuccarello connected with the streaking Kreider for a chance, and Kreider snuck it past Fleury as he went to play the pass instead of the shot.

But the Rangers lead didn’t last long, with Sidney Crosby answering back with a goal of his own. Crosby hit the post with his first shot, but was aware enough to collect the loose puck and bank it in off of Lundqvist’s skate to tie the game at one.

Just 21 seconds later, Evgeni Malkin scored his 25th goal of the season and gave Pittsburgh the lead. His initial shot was blocked but he quickly put in the rebound and gave the Penguins the lead.

But they scored again. Keith Yandle took an interference penalty that wouldn’t have been called 20 years ago. Patric Hornqvist deflected a Phil Kessel shot past Lundqvist, giving the Penguins their third goal in a span of 1:39. Pittsburgh led 3-1 after two periods, and the Rangers were up in shots, 23-22.

Antti Raanta opened up the third period in net, replacing Henrik Lundqvist. In the first period, he collided with Ryan McDonagh, with the captain contacting his head, and Lundqvist was shaken up. He actually pushed the net off its moorings to get a whistle, but he played the second period. The extent of his injury wasn’t announced.

The Penguins didn’t allow the Rangers to do much of anything in the third period. They had just five shots on goal, didn’t really generate much offense and didn’t pressure Fleury. Phil Kessel scored into the empty net and the Penguins won 4-1.

After the game, Alain Vigneault said that they removed Lundqvist after two periods because of neck spasms, and that they don’t think it’s anything serious. Hopefully Lundqvist is okay and healthy for tomorrow.

The Ranger are right back at it tomorrow night against the Washington Capitals in the nation’s capital.

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Posted on March 4, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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