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Rangers offense falls flat in crucial loss to Pittsburgh

Alexandra Russo

JT Miller scoring chance 4-21

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

In a game the Rangers had to have, a game that would have evened up this first round series at two games apiece, the Rangers came out and played as if they didn’t understand the significance in the least. From start to finish, the Penguins dominated the game and won it 5-0.

This marks the fifth straight playoff game the Rangers have lost on home ice dating back to Game 2 against the Lightning last season. The Rangers looked flat and lifeless at times in this game, not playing with the urgency needed in a game like this one. It was really disappointing, and the same errors that plagued them all season (bad penalty kill, bad defensive coverage, etc) hurt them again tonight.

This is the third season in a row that the Rangers will face a 3 games to 1 series deficit. Can they come back again?

The first goal of the game went to the Penguins just over a minute into the opening period. Lundqvist left a rebound on Lovejoy’s shot, and Fehr scooped it up and put it in the net for the early lead.

The Rangers, though, hounded Murray with an array of shots. That offensive pressure led Nash to take a penalty. The Penguins converted as Malkin’s shot got deflected by Hornqvist’s skate for a 2 goal lead.

The Rangers’ power play did nothing, and any possibility of a shot was blocked. The Penguins might have had more shots short handed than the Rangers with the man advantage.

After a four on four, the Rangers were on the power play again, and this time they looked much better but were still unable to convert.

The Penguins stormed back from the penalty kills, and Sheary blocked a shot which he skated back down the ice and wristed past Lundqvist for a 3-0 lead that left the crowd dead silent.

The Penguins had a wrap around chance that put the puck behind the net, but the goal was immediately waved off for goaltender interference.

The difference in that period was goaltending, simply put. Lundqvist did not look like the King at all and was not sharp. The first goal wasn’t one he should have left a rebound on, and the third goal could have been a pad save. Murray on the other end looked great when the Rangers put on the pressure late in the first. The shots were 13 to 11 Penguins, but it was 3-0 at the end of one.

Lundqvist made a great pair of saves to start the second period, which seemed to boost his confidence. But the Penguins kept coming at the Rangers and we’re playing very tight defensively. Lundqvist was forced to make an incredible save on Hornqvist as he was left in front with no coverage.

Moore took a penalty that cost his team, as they went down 4-0 on Malkin’s shot from the point.

Antii Raanta replaced Lundqvist a little while after it was 4-0.

And then there was Glass, who took a double minor to put his team down a man for four minutes. Stalberg and Moore had a two on one, but a bouncing puck to Moore didn’t even allow them to get a shot off. However, the penalty kill looked better.

Lovejoy took a penalty that gave the Rangers their third power play of the game, which reverted back to the first one. No looks, no chances. Pathetic.

The rest of the period just was completely dominated by the Penguins, as had been the game to that point. The shots were 27-17 in favor of the Penguins, as the crowd was definitely wondering what someone had done with their Rangers.

Glass had a chance early in the third period, but the Rangers took another penalty. Surprisingly, they had chances on the Penguins’ power play, but the Penguins scored to go 3/5 on the power play. Evgeni Malkin scored again on a redirection in front, his second power play goal of the game and fourth point.

The Rangers were simply unable to get anything going at all. They were clogged in the neutral zone, the main area of concern they discussed before the game. There were a few chances here and there, but there was absolutely no quality chances, and those that looked decent Murray saved.

The Rangers had a fourth power play opportunity with five minutes remaining, but they were yet again unable to get anything done.

The Rangers took another penalty with about 30 seconds left in the game, and they killed it off.

All the focus is on Game 5 now. The Rangers have been in this position before, and against this very team. They also came back from 3-1 against the Capitals last season, and against the Penguins a season before that. They’re going to have to dig deep and find a way to keep this series and this season alive. Game 5’s time has yet to be determined, but it will be Saturday back in Pittsburgh.

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Posted on April 22, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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