After coming back from a two goal deficit on Monday night, the Rangers were absolutely embarrassed tonight by the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden. Sometimes it’s just not your night, and tonight was certainly not the Rangers night. Their offense came up empty aside from the early goal, and the defense was completely picked apart by the Penguins all night long.
During the opening minutes of this game, neither team was able to get much going with both teams only combining for eight total shots. However, at the 4:17 mark Evgeni Malkin was whistled down for tripping, and gave the Rangers an early power play opportunity. Just five seconds into the power play, Rick Nash converted after locating a loose puck, and slipping it around Matt Murray to make it a 1-0 game.
Following the goal, the Penguins started to turn up the pressure and create some chances in the offensive zone. Henrik Lundqvist was forced into making several huge saves to keep the game in the Rangers favor, and preserved the 1-0 lead heading into the second period.
Unfortunately, the Rangers forgot to come out for the second period, and let the Penguins run a clinic on the MSG ice. Scott Wilson started the scoring barrage just 2:02 into the period after tapping home a beautiful cross-ice feed from Phil Kessel. A little over three minutes later, Sidney Crosby put the Penguins up 2-0 following a sneaky deflection at the top of the crease.
As if the period couldn’t get any worse, the Penguins wound up adding three more goals before the period came to a close. Phil Kessel picked up the Penguins third goal after backing off Nick Holden, and absolutely sniping one over the shoulder of Henrik Lundqvist. Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary added the final two goals of the second period, and they took a commanding 5-1 lead into the third period.
Henrik Lundqvist’s night came to an end following the fourth goal from Crosby, with Antti Raanta coming in to finish out the remainder of the game. As bad as it appeared with Lundqvist letting up four goals in the period, he really didn’t stand much of a chance on any of the goals.
The first goal was a back door play that neither defenseman picked up on, while the second goal was a ridiculous deflection in front of the net. The third goal was a perfectly placed shot that not many goalies stop, and the final one came off of a fortunate bounce courtesy of Ryan McDonagh’s stick. Many will likely blame this game on Lundqvist, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Penguins were able to add on another goal in the third period, and held the Rangers without a shot on goal until the four minute mark. So within a matter of two days, the Rangers went from playing arguably their best 40 minutes of the season in Pittsburgh, followed up by their worst 40 minutes this evening.
Obviously this is pretty concerning, because if the Rangers offense doesn’t put up five goals, are these the results we are going to see? Their high powered offense has overshadowed the Rangers biggest issue for a good portion of this season, and tonight the Penguins fully exposed the flaws on defense.
We’ll see how AV responds for Friday afternoon’s game in Philadelphia, and whether he decides to finally get Adam Clendening in the lineup or not.