Recap: Rangers Fall to Sid & The Penguins 5-2

Recap: Rangers Fall to Sid & The Penguins 5-2
Apr 1, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Alex Nedeljkovic (39) makes a save while New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) awaits a rebound during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Kicking off another busy week, the Rangers played host to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the third and final time this season. Having already beaten them twice this season, the Rangers had the chance for another regular season series sweep but some poor matchups, a dreadful start and a couple of costly turnovers would prevent that from happening despite a third period push.

1st Period:

An extremely less than ideal start from the Rangers as they let up a goal just 18 seconds after the initial puck drop. A brutal turnover from Jacob Trouba resulted in Reilly Smith picking up the puck and getting it back to Sidney Crosby who let a quick shot go off the pad of Igor Shesterkin. Bryan Rust however, was right there to put in the rebound to give the Penguins an early 1-0 lead.

In case there was any doubt that Crosby is still among the league’s best, the Penguins long-time leader nearly made it a two goal game as he hit the post on another scoring attempt within the next five minutes. Perhaps an indicator that the Rangers should rethink their match-ups against that line seeing as it was again the Trouba-Miller pairing allowing the chance. Outside of that line, the Rangers were doing a good job of controlling the majority of play.

Just over the midway point of the period, that line continued to be a problem and again, it was the Trouba-Miller pairing at the other end of it. Crosby, Rust and Smith were absolutely flying out there, moving the puck around as good as any top line in this league. The extended shift would end with Crosby redirecting a shot from Pierre-Olivier Joseph past Shesterkin to extend the Penguins lead 2-0.

The Rangers would use their coaches challenge as it appeared the Penguins may have been offside when they entered the zone but frankly, it was far too close to warrant a challenge. Sure enough, the call stood and it was a good goal. On top of the two goal deficit, the Rangers would be short handed for an unsuccessful challenge. It wouldn’t last very long as Trouba lost his stick which resulted in Erik Karlsson taking a penalty for using his own stick to push the stick of Trouba’s out of the zone. Certainly not a penalty you see everyday.

The score remained 2-0 Pittsburgh after a 4-on-4 turned brief power play for the Rangers. As the final quarter of the opening period went on, the Rangers were continuing to look sloppy, specifically in their own end as they couldn’t generate much in the offensive zone. Artemiy Panarin had one solid scoring chance on an individual effort off the rush but the horn would sound with the Rangers trailing despite out-shooting the Penuings 10-6.

2nd Period:

Two minutes into the second frame, Evgeni Malkin would get called for slashing Adam Fox in the neutral zone to give the Rangers their first proper power play of the night. Following a tremendous entry from Vincent Trocheck that resulted in him ripping a shot off the post, Mika Zibanejad found the back of the net on a one-timer for a goal that was immediately waved off. As the Penguins netminder attempted to slide across the crease to make the save, Kreider who was in his usual position atop the crease, got tangled up with Nedeljkovic’s pad which resulted in the goaltender interference decision.

Not much of an explanation from the officials but play would resume as the remaining time on the Malkin penalty quietly expired. Despite all the adversity, the Rangers were still doing a good job of providing pressure in the offensive zone, continuing to find ample scoring opportunities.

Just over the midway mark of the game, things began to get a little feisty as Mika Zibanejad and Bryan Rust were caught in a spirited battle for the puck in the Rangers own end. Shortly after, Shesterkin plyaed the puck behind the net which resulted in Crosby making some contact with the Rangers netminder. Shesterkin obviously didn’t like that and ended up giving Crosby an extra shove or two as the puck kept moving.

With under seven minutes to go, the Rangers headed to the penalty kill as Braden Schneider was called for interference after getting tangled up with Valtteri Puustinen. The Rangers were successful in fighting off the man advantage but things continued to escale as the period went on. Alex Wennberg would take a big hit from behind that went uncalled and resulted in a partial scrum.

Soon after, the Rangers got their power play as Erik Karlsson was called for hooking on the next shift in a bit of a make up call. With two minutes remaining in the period, the Rangers would close out the second with a big man advantage but couldn’t find a way to convert as the period would end as it began, with a 2-0 Penguin lead. Another period where the Rangers out-shot the Penguins but couldn’t come up with an answer.

3rd Period:

The Penguins really stared to lock things down in the games final period as they were doing a good job of keeping the Rangers from generating much of anything. Things had taken quite a boring turn to the point where the restless Garden Faithful began chanting “We Want Rempe!’”

With about ten minutes to go in regulation, Will Cuylle got caught trying to do too much with the puck near the blueline which resulted in another costly turnover. This gave Emil Bemstrom a clear breakaway and despite Sam Rosen’s initial thoughts, the Penguins forward managed to sneak the shot past Shesterkin on the glove side to extend their lead 3-0.

Less than a minute later, the Rangers were finally able to answer to spoil the shutout for Nedeljkovic. A nice set up from Adam Fox fed Kaapo Kakko for the one timer right at the bottom of the right face-off circle. While Nedeljkovic was able to catch the shot with his catching glove, it was quite clear that the puck was caught well past the goal line which resulted in a good goal making it a 3-1 game.

The goal gave the Rangers a bit of a jolt but a bench minor for too many men on the ice with six minutes to go really hurt their chances. They pulled off another impressive penalty kill but it chewed off precious time on the clock which left them with just four minutes to erase a two goal deficit.

A minute later, the Rangers were able to settle into the Penguins zone and after a patient effort from Zibanejad to get a shot off from the point, Jack Roslovic managed to score as Zibanejad’s initial shot missed the net but found him on the wide open side of the net, 3-2 with about three minutes to go.

Once the Rangers were able to get the puck back in Pittsburgh’s end, they pulled Shesterkin for the extra attacker as they looked to complete the comeback. It wouldn’t be long before the Penguins won an important puck battle which resuted in Bryan Rust picking up his second goal of the night on an empty net goal. The Rangers pulled Shesterkin once again but a blocked shot from Crosby would result in another empty netter to finish things off 5-2.

Not a great night for the Rangers by any means as they allowed the Crosby line to get the best of them early on, causing them to fight an uphill battle in hopes of a comeback. Their win streak will stop at five as the Blueshirts will look to get back on track against a similarly positioned New Jersey Devils team back at the Garden on Wednesday Night.