After a poor effort at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, the New York Rangers responded in Game 3 and defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1. For a majority of this game, the Rangers controlled the play, and were essentially putting on a defensive clinic in their own zone. However, the second half of the third period was an absolute disaster, and the Rangers starting sitting back on the lead once again. That lead to constant pressure from the Penguins, and eventually allowed them to make a one goal game with a few minutes left.
Henrik Lundqvist, like usual, had a monster game in between the pipes, and stood on his head in the closing minutes of this game. He also made a huge toe save on Sidney Crosby late in the game, and kept the Rangers clinging to their 2-1 lead. Aside from the obvious shell at the end of the game, the Rangers played one heck of a game tonight, and caught the Penguins napping early on.
Keith Yandle was able to catch the Penguins making a lazy change after they turned the puck over, and he tossed a crisp up to Carl Hagelin. Hagelin was able to catch the puck in stride, and broke in all alone of Marc-Andre Fleury with plenty of room ahead of him. With Fleury being aggressive, Hagelin ripped a hard slap shot through his legs, and gave the Rangers the early 1-0 lead in this game.
After closing out an excellent road period, the Rangers continued to pressure the Penguins, and give them fits in the offensive zone. Finally, at the 11:07 mark of the second, Chris Kreider doubled the Rangers lead after a perfect set play coming from Marc Staal. There wasn't much of a shooting lane when Staal got the puck, so he elected to rip a slap shot off of the end boards.
It wound up working out perfectly as the puck bounced right to Kreider to the side of the net, and slapped it out of the air to beat Fleury on the short side. That goal was huge in terms of taking a two goal lead into the third period, and keeping an already quiet home crowd even quieter. Heading into the third period, the Rangers had a solid 40 minutes under their belts with 20 more minutes left to wrap this one up.
Although, as it usually goes with the Rangers, nothing is ever as easy as it appears. Sure enough, after keeping the Penguins at bay for the first half of the period, the Rangers fell back on their two goal lead late in the game. After constant pressure from the Penguins, they finally pounced on a loose puck in front, and made this a 2-1 game. Patric Hornqvist was able to collect the rebound in the high slot, and chipped it by Lundqvist as he was fighting his way through traffic in front.
Nothing really changed following the goal either, as the Rangers continued to fall back in their heels, and let the Penguins dominate the possession game. Somehow, and some way the Rangers were able to keep the Penguins contained for the most post, and held on to take the 2-1 victory in Game 3. It certainly wasn't pretty at the end, but the Rangers were able to get the job done, and take back control of this series heading into Game 4.
The Rangers are scheduled to have an off day tomorrow as they prepare for Game 4 coming up on Wednesday evening.