RANGERS TAKE 1-0 SERIES LEAD
Playing one strong period and two poor ones plus overtime led to a Game 1 loss for the Penguins. Derrick Braasard scored 3:06 into overtime leading the Rangers to a 3-2 win to take a 1-0 series lead.
When evaluating this game, you can’t look past an ugly first period for the Penguins. Benoit Pouliot scored 5:04 into the first period on a poor goal given up by Marc Andre Fleury and Brad Richards scored late in the period on a blown coverage in front by Matt Niskanen as the Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
The Penguins were awaken in the second period, scoring twice on goals from Lee Stempniak and James Neal to tie the game at 2-2. Pittsburgh outshot New York 15-4 in the second period and with a Rangers team that was playing three times in four nights, this game appeared to be swaying into the Penguins direction.
That wouldn’t be the case.
Pittsburgh failed to build off a strong second period as the Rangers were the better team in the third period and into overtime. The Rangers deserve credit for refocusing in the third but the Penguins had a great opportunity to continue to jump on the Rangers and put them away in the third. “We just stopped skating, stopped making plays and sat back,” Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said of the Rangers poor second period. “That’s when they take advantage of us not getting pucks deep and They’re coming through the neutral zone flying, they’re crisscrossing, making drop passes, and those are hard to defend when we’re back on our heels and they’re coming with speed…..That took a lot for us to come back in the third and refocus our game and get back to what we did in the first.”
What we saw from the Penguins tonight is what we’ve seen from them all post-season. They struggle to put together a 60 minute game. “I think for whatever reason we didn’t come out hard enough,” Sidney Crosby who was pointless and a minus-3 in the loss said of the Penguins.
Two concerns for the Penguins in Game 1 was blown coverage’s in the defensive zone as the Rangers were consistently able to find scoring opportunities in the slot and Pittsburgh’s inability to cause traffic in front of Henrik Lundqvist, especially on the power play.
Lundqvist was excellent in the win, making 34 saves on 36 shots. Marc Andre Fleury made 24 saves on 27 shots. A lot of times with Fleury you can tell early how his night is going to go. In the first period he was really fighting the puck. He rarely got tested in the second period but did have a strong third period.