Penalty Kill Unit, Matt Murray star in giving Rangers No Life
The Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup in 2011 with one of the worst power plays you’ll see started this narrative that you don’t need a power play to win in the NHL Playoffs.
Okay, maybe true, but when you combine power play production with a great penalty kill, it can be demoralizing to an opponent over a seven game series.
For the Rangers their power play sunk them in Game 3 in not providing that critical next goal in the first forty minutes and tonight two failed power play opportunities in the first period when trailing 2-0 was unable to save them and provide a needed momentum swing.
The Penguins got off to a roaring start with two early goals by just making the simple play in getting the puck to the net.
Ben Lovejoy notorious for just dumping the puck in and not making the smart play, makes a rare zone entry in getting the puck on net that leads to a poor Henrik Lundqvist rebound and an Eric Fehr goal, 1:09 into the game.
The Fehr goal saw the Penguins keep pushing and then on the power play get a killer goal with Evgeni Malkin just making a simple shot on net that gets deflected by Sidney Crosby (goal credited to Patric Hornqvist) past Lundqvist at 7:11 of the period.
A 2-0 commanding Penguins lead where they’re dominating play in all facets and the Rangers look done already.
New York gets some potential life with a Patric Hornqvist penalty at 8:43 of the period. Pittsburgh kills it off easily. Trevor Daley then goes off for hooking at 13:06 of the period with the Penguins still leading 2-0 and the Rangers failed to capitalize again.
A 1:06 after the Daley penalty expired, Conor Sheary turns defense into offense by creating a turnover in the defensive zone and beating Henrik Lundqvist for a breakaway goal.
3-0 Game over and the period wasn’t even 17 minutes old.
Pittsburgh is 15-16 (93.8%) on the penalty kill, surrendering no 5-on-4 goals in the series. To add to their special teams dominance, the Penguins are 7-19 (37%) on the power play, highlighted by three power play goals tonight.
It’s quite the lethal combination as the Penguins have taken complete control of the series after being out-played 5 v 5 in the first two games.
The Penguins’ and Capitals’ look to be on a collision course in the second round and both teams are currently up 3-1 in their respective series’.
What do they have in common?
Lethal special teams right now and strength between the pipes.
The Penguins combined power play/penalty kill percentage is 130.6. Washington 8-21 on the power play and 14-15 on the penalty kill, have a combined percentage of 131.4.
The Matt Murray Dynamic
— Playoff experience is overrated for goaltenders and Matt Murray is proving that again as other young goaltenders have in the past.
Murray is so positionally sound and anticipates the play at such an elite level already, and when you combine that with the size and athleticism he has, he gets in the oppositions head that they have to make a perfect shot to beat him. That’s what he did tonight.
As good as the Penguins were in this game, Murray came up with a number of timely, spectacular saves, especially late in the first period.
It was the penalty kill and Matt Murray that gave the Rangers no life when they pressed.
All due respect to Marc Andre Fleury, as I’ve stated before, there is no drop off with Murray and he’s proving that. When you have a goaltender the caliber of Murray, how young and inexperienced he is doesn’t matter. Marc Andre Fleury has proven more playoff experience doesn’t mean more playoff success.
— Henrik Lundqvist had shown some cracks this season and other than Game 2, we’ve seen them this series. In Game 3, the opportunity was there to steal one in a close game, Matt Cullen beats him for the go-ahead breakaway goal.
Tonight he just didn’t look ready to play. Awful rebound on the Fehr goal, then gets beat again on a breakaway goal from Sheary.
PIT 1:09 Eric Fehr (1) | Assists: Ben Lovejoy, Evgeni Malkin (PIT 1-0)
PIT 7:11 Patric Hornqvist (4) (Power Play) | Assists: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin (PIT 2-0)
PIT 16:12 Conor Sheary (1) (PIT 3-0)
PIT 4:00 Evgeni Malkin (1) (Power Play) | Assists: Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist (PIT 4-0)
PIT 3:28 Evgeni Malkin (2) (Power Play) | Assists: Brian Dumoulin, Nick Bonino (PIT 5-0)