W2W4: Rangers vs. Penguins, Game 3

May, 5, 2014
At a glance: With their second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins now tied at one game apiece, the New York Rangers have no time to sit around and sulk over Sunday’s 3-0 shutout in Game 2. The two teams get right back at it less than 24 hours later Monday night at Madison Square Garden. The Blueshirts’ absurdly compressed schedule has done them no favors. The team is coming off their fifth game in seven nights, though coach Alain Vigneault insisted that fatigue should and could not be a factor.

Home sweet home: The Rangers return to the Big Apple for their first game at MSG since dropping 13 consecutive post-season games when leading a series. But home ice seems to give the Rangers a boost -- New York has won 12 of their last 17 playoff games at home including seven of the last nine post-season contests.

Still scoreless: Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby has still not scored a goal yet this post-season but the superstar center had a tremendous game on Sunday after enduring intense scrutiny for his lack of production and endless questions about his health. Had it not been for Henrik Lundqvist’s commendable performance in Game 2, Crosby would’ve snapped a goal drought that is now at 13 games and counting.

While Pittsburgh’s top players were at their very best on Sunday, the Rangers’ marquee names were largely absent. Rick Nash had a few great chances but couldn’t finish, and his linemates Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis did nothing to help the cause.

Power outage: How much else can you say about a Rangers power play that has been blanked on 29 straight attempts? Not even a personnel change Sunday –- using Anton Stralman on the point on the second unit -– could yield results. What began as a stumble is snow-balling into something much worse as the embattled unit continues to derail the team’s momentum and sap confidence with each missed opportunity.

Playing like royalty: Lundqvist truly seemed poised to steal Sunday’s game with his fantastic 32-save night, so the Rangers must live with the fact that they may have wasted his finest performance of the playoffs with their inferior effort in Game 2. But if he can carry that type of play into Game 3, when he will make his franchise record 77th consecutive playoff appearance, the Rangers have to feel good about their chances. The Penguins made their presence known Sunday, wreaking havoc in Lundqvist’s crease, so the Rangers will have win those battles in the trenches in order to give their franchise netminder some help.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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