Rangers drop second straight game against the Penguins
The Rangers (39-23-7) and Penguins (36-24-8) played for the third time this season, but it was the Penguins winning for the second time in this season series, beating the Rangers in an intense game 5-3.
This also marked the first time that the Rangers lost back-to-back games since December 18th and 20th. They’ve won just two of their last six games (2-3-1) and they’re just three points ahead of the Islanders, but the Isles have three games in hand. They’ve also lost each of their last two home games.
The home team came out fast, recording four shots on goal in just the first three minutes of play. Brassard, who missed the game against Detroit to the flu, drove hard to the net. His long rebound went to Fast, but Fleury denied him.
The Rangers’ power play has looked better as of late. They had four consecutive games with a power play goal headed into this contest. They had an opportunity early in the game, including a 5 on 3 for 32 seconds. Though they failed to convert, some beautiful passing led to numerous opportunities.
Chris Kreider had a breakaway but Fleury poke-checked the puck away from him. Brassard and Nash looked like themselves, which is always a good sign.
The Penguins responded well after killing two penalties, applying some pressure in the Rangers’ zone. However, the Rangers brought it right back down the other end. They proceeded to hound Fleury with an array of shots from different angles, but he stopped them all, keeping his team in the game. Dan Boyle’s shot was the only one that beat Fleury but only to ding the post.
JT Miller took a holding penalty that put his team shorthanded. Patric Hornqvist scored for the Penguins on a rebound shot from Crosby. Lundqvist didn’t get back to the side of the post in time, and the puck went through his arm and pad. Dan Girardi should have gotten the puck out of the zone before Crosby even got a chance to shoot the puck at Lundqvist. With Nash back, the Rangers hope the penalty kill will get better.
The Blueshirts finally were rewarded for all their hard work and got one back 18:06 into the first period of play to tie the game up at one. Klein did a great job of gaining the blue line and drop passed the puck to Derek Stepan. Stepan fed a well-positioned Chris Kreider in front, who deflected the puck past Fleury for his 16th goal of the season.
As testimony to the Rangers’ strong period of play, nineteen shots on goal were recorded. Sometimes it takes two period to get that many shots, but they came out strong and fast.
With twenty seconds left, McDonagh took a penalty that extended into the second period. The Penguins rang a shot off the post very early into the power play. However, aggressive checking by the Rangers led to a good penalty kill.
The Penguins came out strong after their power play. Lundqvist was standing on his head to start the period, as he stoned the Penguins on quite a few quality chances. It began to look like a never-ending power play for the away team, and they capitalized. Sheary deflected a shot in front by Schultz that put his team up by a goal.
The Rangers got a power play, which they converted on pretty early. Stepan received his second assist of the night as he won the faceoff that led to Brassard’s goal. Stepan won it back to Yandle, who passed the puck to Brassard. He ripped a shot past Fleury for a tie game for the second time of the afternoon.
The teams traded chances for the next couple of minutes but were denied both ways. The Rangers were guilty of a few giveaways. They were lucky it didn’t cost them, though. What did cost them was Kevin Hayes not staying on his man, Sheary. Sheary raced in on a breakaway and his slap shot beat Lundqvist top shelf for their third lead of the game.
Zuccarello took a penalty late in the period, but his team did a great job of making up for his transgression and killed the penalty. The Penguins took a 3-2 lead into the third period and had outshot the Rangers to that point, 23-21. It was all up to how much the Rangers had left in the tank at this point.
Kreider and Kunitz went at it a few seconds into the final period of play and received five minutes each for fighting. The teams skated four aside for a while, trading chances. The Rangers had a strong push. Captain Ryan McDonagh went speeding down the ice all alone and beat Fleury as he wrapped the puck around him for a tie game once again.
Matt Cullen scored the Penguins’ fourth goal of the game with just under 9 minutes to go in regulation time. He took a shot from behind that deflected off of Marc Stall in front. Once again, the Rangers found themselves down by one.
With 38.8 seconds to go, Crosby continued his scoring streak as he scored into the empty net for the 5 to 3 win.
While the score doesn’t prove it, the Blueshirts played a tight game. Hayes did not see ice time after the Pens scored their second goal. Despite some giveaways, the Rangers did not play a “terrible” game.
However, after getting 19 shots on goal in the first period alone, the Rangers had just eight for the rest of the game. There have been way too many games recently where they have almost no possession or shots for very long stretches of time. That has to change, especially heading into the playoffs.
The good to take from this game is that the penalty did improve after that first goal, Nash looks almost like himself again, and the power play continues to score. The Rangers have lost their last two at home with this loss. They head out to California to take on the Ducks, Kings, and Sharks.
Posted on March 13, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged Chris Kreider, Conor Sheary, Derick Brassard, JT Miller, Keith Yandle, Kevin Hayes, Madison Square Garden, Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Cullen, MSG, New York Rangers, New York Rangers blog, NYR, Rangers, Rangers blog, Rangers vs Penguins, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Sidney Crosby. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.