The New York Rangers had a huge opportunity to take back control of this series tonight, but fell 7-4 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in regulation. The Rangers made a pretty impressive comeback after falling behind 4-1 with a monumental second period. Despite the Rangers making the comeback, they didn’t have that great of a third period and allowed Pittsburgh back into the game.
Everything that could have went wrong for the Rangers, went wrong in this period. Right from the opening faceoff, the Penguins established control in the offensive zone and New York really didn’t have much of an answer. Brock McGinn got the Penguins started early with a fortunate bounce off to the right of the net, and it slipped in behind Igor Shesterkin. Kaapo Kakko was able to give the Rangers some life after allowing the opening tally, but that didn’t last very long.
Jeff Carter and Evan Rodriguez combined for three more Penguins’ goals before the end of the period, and they took a 4-1 lead into the first intermission of play.
As bad as the Rangers were in the opening period, Frank Vatrano started the three-goal rally with an absolute sniped off to the right of Louis Domingue. Chris Kreider set him up with a beautiful saucer pass across the full length of the ice, and Vatrano didn’t miss. A little under a minute later, Artemiy Panarin pulled the Rangers back within a single goal after the Rangers continued swarming the front of the net. Panarin eventually got a rebound in a prime scoring location, and snapped the shot under the crossbar.
New York was tasked with a late penalty kill after pushing back against the Penguins, and Andrew Copp’s shorthanded goal pulled by the Blueshirts even once again. Kevin Rooney made a great play to force a turnover on Kris Letang, and he kept driving to the front of the net. Rooney was eventually hauled down on the play, but Andrew Copp followed up the play and slammed home the loose puck to make it a 4-4 game.
The Rangers had three separate power play opportunities early in the third period, but Louis Domingue showed up an opportune time. Domingue’s highlight of the period came on a desperation save as he slid over on his side to deny Mika Zibanejad in the left faceoff circle. The Rangers’ missed opportunities came back to bite them later on in the period as Danton Heinen caught a fortunate bounce and the puck just barely slid through Alexandar Georgiev. Jake Guentzel and Jeff Carter followed up with two empty net goals as the Rangers were pressuring, and iced the game in favor of the Penguins.
Simply put, the Rangers had as good of a chance to win this game in the third as anyone, but the power play couldn’t deliver. You could feel the unfortunate bounce coming after the Rangers stormed all the way back to tie the game, and it came right on cue. The Rangers will need a big Game 4 to take this series back to New York all squared away at 2-2, and we’ll see what they have in store on Monday night.