GAME 4 ANALYSIS
Kevin Hayes scored 3:14 into the overtime, lifting the New York Rangers to a 2-1 overtime win in taking a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Game 5 is Friday night as the series shifts back to New York.
The Penguins who have been held to one goal in six of their last seven playoff games, are on the brink of being eliminated in the first round for the third time in the past five post-seasons.
On the game winning goal, Ben Lovejoy got beat behind the net by Marty. St. Louis and the Penguins despite a 4-on-2 advantage in front of the net, saw Paul Martin and Daniel Winnik make no effort to pick up Hayes near the right post as Hayes uncovered poked the puck past Marc Andre Fleury in the midst of a scramble in front.
“Guys were in their position,” Mike Johnston said of the game winning goal. “Lovejoy lost St. Louis for a split second [there].”
What led to the broken play was Lovejoy taking a poor angle in defending St. Louis behind the net as instead of taking a straight angle and pinning St. Louis against the boards, Lovejoy took his angle too far to the left and St. Louis was easily able to turn and protect the puck in getting to the net that led to the goal.
For the Penguins this game played again to the coaches blueprint of coming into the series of playing a tight defensive game and being more focused on players committing to the defensive zone and neutral zone than installing any creativity offensively.
“We’re playing the right way,” Johnston said after the game, praising the way the Penguins are defending.
“Every game is a 2-1 one [game]. The message can’t be we need you to score.”
Johnston who called it a results business last week, wants the focus on chances.
“Results haven’t swung in our way, 2-1, but they will. “I don’t want to focus on scoring with our team. It’s about getting chances.”
In another low scoring game, the Penguins got the start they wanted as Patric Hornqvist scored 2:22 into the game and held the Rangers without a shot until 11:35 of the first period.
The Penguins, though, were unable to sustain the tempo offensively they possessed in period one and it would become a game of who would make one more play than the other team.
The Rangers would be the team on the winning end.
“We did some good things,” Sidney Crosby said. “Whoever gets last goal wins, they got it. Fairly even hockey [game] I thought. We still have to find ways to get that next one.”
The Rangers woke up in the final two periods and had the territorial edge from the second period on. Johnston, though, really liked the Penguins first and third periods.
“Thought first and third were really good for us,” Johnston said.
Johnston cited good puck placement when getting pucks in deep as a factor for the Penguins success early on.
“Lot being made of starts, tonight thought early in the game our puck placement was good to get in on their defense,”
The Penguins quality of play offensively in the final 50+ minutes of the game was stagnant, a common theme for the last several months.
Evgeni Malkin in the midst of a major slump, didn’t record his first shot until there was 12:12 left in the third period.
Malkin had 1 shot and 2 shot attempts in the game. Crosby was held to 2 shots on goal (2 shot attempts).
David Perron had just 3 shot attempts.
The Penguins skilled players were neutralized all night.
Chris Kunitz and Patric Hornqvist created the most individual chances. Kunitz led the Penguins with 7 shot attempts, Hornqvist 6.