Rangers season comes to a close with 6-3 thrashing in Pittsburgh
Alain Vigneault said before the game that his team has been there before, and they’ve been successful by staying in the moment. Unfortunately, that success didn’t carry over to this season, as they lost this game, this series, and their season, by the final score of 6-3.
One of the things the Rangers said they needed is the strong presence and scoring of Rick Nash, and he opened up the scoring for his team 1:01 into Game 5. Brady Skjei made a fast pass to Dan Girardi, who took a shot from the point. That got deflected by Nash in front for the early Rangers’ lead.
But the Blueshirts didn’t stop there. They proceeded to harass Murray and were able to get quite a few quality opportunities. Specifically, they had an odd-man rush where Nash made a great pass to Girardi in front of the net, but Murray made a good save to prevent a bigger lead.
After the Rangers, specifically Fast, failed to get the puck out of the zone, the Penguins created a two on one down low. Kessel fed Hagelin in front of Lundqvist for a tie game at one.
The Rangers came back fast. After Fast took a shot that rang off the post, Stalberg tried to tip it in front, driving hard to the net. Dominic Moore tried another attempt at putting the puck behind Murray, and though he got credited for the goal, the puck went off of Hornqvist’s skate, making it 2-1 Rangers. Either way, the Rangers had taken the lead again, but it wasn’t for long.
The Rangers took a penalty that cost them yet again. Kessel took a shot from far out that went past Lundqvist for a tie game yet again. It was a simple wrist shot, but somehow Lundqvist’s stick deflected it in, and halfway through the period it was 2-2.
The Rangers had a power play shortly thereafter but couldn’t seem to get past the outside. If they want to get better on their man advantage situations, they must find ways to move the puck faster with their passes. They also have to find better shooting lanes for more quality chances.
The rest of the period went both ways with chances. Crosby made a stop-and-go play, but young defenseman Brady Skjei did a good job staying with him, and Lundqvist made a good save on an easier shot. The Rangers let up a little on Murray towards the end of that period, but they still outshot the opposition 14 to 11.
The start of the second period saw the Rangers come on strong first, but the Penguins had a strong push a few minutes later. Another two on one down low was developed, but both Lundqvist and Dan Girardi went sliding across the crease to keep the game tied.
5:21 into the middle period, a bad giveaway by the Rangers led Cullen to fake a shot in front of Lundqvist. Instead of a shot, he passed it to Rust who put it past the Rangers’ goaltender for their first lead of the game.
The Blueshirts found themselves in a two goal hole halfway through the period when Brassard couldn’t get the puck out of the reach of Cullen. Cullen beat Lundqvist top shelf for a 4-2 lead.
The Rangers then took a penalty, and the Penguins had some good looks, including a post by Crosby, but they failed to convert.
Zuccarello took a feed from Brassard but was denied by Murray, as he tried a snap shot.
The Rangers had a power play that they again didn’t convert on. Nash had a great chance with an empty net but missed it high and wide.
The Penguins came racing down the other way, and Crosby gave a fast past to Sheary, and just like that it was 5-2. They didn’t stop there, though. The Pens created a two on one, and Rust snapped the puck past Lundqvist, 6-2.
The third period started where the Rangers had quite a few chances and were very risky with the puck. They went on the power play early, and Diaz’s blast from the point got deflected by Kreider and went behind Murray to make it 6-3 with about 15 minutes left in the game.
Kreider had a great chance a couple of minutes later, but he was denied by Murray.
Girardi made a great defensive play as the Penguins came down on a 3 on 1. The home team put on the pressure, and Raanta stopped them all.
Murray and the rest of the Penguins’ defense stopped the Rangers and all their shots for the rest of the game.
Last season, the Rangers were the President’s Trophy Champions and made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and even with that amazing season, they had trouble scoring at home. That trouble plagued them this season again. Some might argue that this series was lost in Game 4 with that shutout loss at home.
But then there’s Lundqvist, and it’s nearly impossible to see him give up 6 goals in an elimination game. Quite a few of those goals he normally makes a save on, but the last two games of this season he played the same way, and whatever strategy he employed, it didn’t work.
That’s not to say that Lundqvist was the only reason the Rangers lost. The team in front of him needed better defense, as well. There were way too many odd-man rushes for the Penguins, between the two on ones and the two on ones down low.
However, all negativity aside, there are some positives to take from this season. A lot of people said that the Rangers have traded away their future for the present. But that’s not true, despite a lot of draft picks being traded away. Players like Dylan McIlrath, Brady Skjei and Antti Raanta are all young and can, with the right disciplining, become integral parts of the roster. So while it hurts now, know that there is hope for next season. There will be changes made to the lineup, but overall, the core of this team will remain intact. Those players know what it’s like to have a long season, a deep run in the playoffs, and they’ll want that bad next season. Believe that. Keep the faith, Rangers’ fans. There’s always next season.
Posted on April 24, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged Brian Rust, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Lundqvist, Madison Square Garden, MSG, New York Rangers, New York Rangers blog, NHL, NHL Playoffs, NYR, Pittsburgh Penguins, Rangers, Rangers blog, Rangers vs Penguins, Raphael Diaz, Ryan McDonagh, Viktor Stalberg. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.