Sunday, May 4, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Penguins 3, Rangers 0
By Katie Strang
PITTSBURGH -- The New York Rangers fell victim to a dominant Pittsburgh Penguins effort in Game 2 Sunday night, and the 3-0 loss would've been a hell of a lot worse had it not been for Henrik Lundqvist's heroic efforts to keep his team in the game. The series is now tied 1-1 as it shifts back to New York for Game 3.
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury recorded the shutout, and captain Sidney Crosby was brilliant despite failing to score a goal for the 13th straight playoff game.
The superstar center was arguably the Penguins' best player on the ice, showing the sort of explosiveness and dynamism that will likely curb persisting questions about his health.
Meanwhile, the Rangers have now dropped 13 straight playoff contests when leading in a series as fatigue appeared to be a factor Sunday night. And if the Rangers are tired now, it's only going to get worse as they will be forced to make a quick turnaround for Game 3 Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
Strong in net: Lundqvist was particularly sharp in the second period as the Penguins dominated play and generated an abundance of quality scoring chances. He made a stellar stop to stone Chris Kunitz on a solo breakaway midway through the period and followed that up with a monster save on Crosby in front, but the Rangers fell behind 1-0, regardless. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang's shot deflected in off defenseman Dan Girardi's stick to give the Penguins their first lead of the series, despite all Lundqvist had done to preserve the scoreless tie. Had he not been as stingy as he was, the Rangers would’ve been trailing by much more than a single goal, as the Penguins kept the foot on the gas the entire middle frame.
Sour streak: The Rangers’ power play had been so bad of late that Rangers coach Alain Vigneault gave Anton Stralman a chance on the point of the second unit, despite a pretty strong reluctance to use the Swedish defenseman there all season. The move did not change much as the floundering unit continued to struggle Sunday night. The Rangers spent six of the first 10 minutes of the game with the man advantage but came up short on all three first-period attempts and failed to even register a shot on their third of the frame. That slump persisted the rest of the game as the Blueshirts finished the night 0–for-4 on the power play. They have been held without a man-up goal in 29 straight attempts.
Making changes: Penguins forward Brian Gibbons drew into the lineup Sunday after sitting out with injury. Gibbons, who had two goals in the first two games of the Pens’ first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, replaced Tanner Glass. Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik missed his fourth straight game with an undisclosed injury.