The Pens cruised past the Rangers Monday, pulling ahead to a 3-0 lead and never looking back. Sidney Crosby and Co. made the most of a second period in which the Pens outshot the Blueshirts 14-6 and fought off several third-period penalties to lock up the W. Here’s how it all went down:
I Wanna Be Sedated
I wonder if it was a coincidence that the house organ played The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" prior to the start of the third period, because the Blueshirts sure seemed a little sleepy Monday night. It could have been a factor of the schedule (this was their third game in four days), or just a letdown in the first home game back after a road trip, but whatever the reason, the Rangers lacked their standard spark.
The header is no commentary on the sniper's play, just his health. Despite complaining of flu-like symptoms and telling The Record’s Andrew Gross he felt “like crap” after the morning skate, Marian Gaborik took the ice for the Rangers, starting the game on a line with Erik Christensen and Ruslan Fedotenko. (Strangely it was Fedotenko that made a mess on the ice early on -- see below). Gaborik didn’t look like he had much giddy-up, but he nearly found the back of the net in the first on a 2-on-1 with Ryan Callahan before breaking through late in the second.
Gaborik loosed a wrister from the top of the left circle past Pens G Marc-Andre Fleury to finally inject some life into what, to that point, had been a very tame Garden crowd.
The Pens tallied first off a brutal gaffe by Fedotenko. Gloving a floating puck, Fedotenko dropped the biscuit at his skates just as Marc Staal was about to collide with him. Neither Blueshirt could corral the puck and Maxime Talbot instead ripped it past Lundqvist. A forgettable moment for Fedotenko to say the least.
Callahan was sent off for interference at the 15 minute mark of the first and it seemed like a very weak call. On the replays it sure seemed more like Crosby took down Callahan rather than the Ranger impeding the Pens’ captain. Refs were a key storyline in the first meeting with the Pens, when the Rangers didn’t see a single PP in the OT contest. They got off to a questionable start here at the Garden, but with a minute left in the first, Callahan earned a power play by driving to the net and drawing a hooking penalty from Kris Letang. The call earned a sarcastic ovation from the savvy Garden crowd.
Beginning of the End
Goals from Letang and Chris Conner made it a 3-0 Pittsburgh lead in the second as the wheels fell off for the Rangers, who were outshot 12-3 through the first 15 minutes of the middle frame. The Pens generated odd-man rushes at will and only a goal post and a few lunging saves by Lundqvist kept it from getting truly ugly.
The Rangers jostled the line combinations so often Monday night, John Tortorella may have been pulling numbers from a Bingo tumbler. Derek Stepan, Brian Boyle, Artem Anisimov and Todd White all saw time between Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan, with centers seemingly bouncing between all four lines. At the end of the second, Gaborik even linked up with Dubinsky and Callahan. I kept waiting for Martin Biron to get his turn, but alas, it never happened.
Don't Call It a Comeback ...
... because it wasn't. The Rangers had a few chances to get back in the game, including a power play five-and-a-half minutes into the third when Stepan drew a hooking call that prevented the rookie from converting a nice feed from Gaborik on an odd-man rush. The Rangers generated a few good scoring chances with the man-advantage, the best of which was on an errant stretch pass that ended up on the stick of Boyle, but the center shot it over the net.
A second penalty at the period's midway point produced no better results for the Rangers.
The Fight Card
Brandon Prust dropped the gloves with the 6-foot-5 Mike Rupp just before the end of the first period. It was a pretty mild bout with few punches landed, if any, before Rupp wrestled Prust to the ice.
Sean Avery and Tyler Kennedy sparred in the second after the Pens pulled ahead 3-0. It was a similar scrap as the Prust bout, but this time the Blueshirt would up on top when they tumbled down in a heap.