Penguins and Rangers in Rare Back-to-Back Postseason Games
The NHL playoffs continue tonight with the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. This is the second game between the two teams in 24 hours. On Sunday, the Penguins evened the best of seven series at 1-1 with a 3-0 win.
However, both teams hustled to get everything together to fly out last night to New York to prepare for Monday’s game, a rare back-to-back set of games during the NHL playoffs.
The Penguins on Sunday turned in what many said was their best performance of not just the postseason, but also quite possibly the entire season.
If Henrik Lundqvist had not been excellent in goal for the Rangers in stopping all but 2 of the Penguins 34 shots, the score could have been much higher.
However, the second and most difficult task of the back-to-back set of games awaits both teams in the Big Apple at famed Madison Square Garden.
Pittsburgh is looking to prove they have turned the corner and are back to playing as they did most of the regular season. They want to put the first period of Game 1 behind them where the Rangers outscored them 2-0 and they lost the game at home 3-2 in overtime.
Game 2 started that process and now in Game 3 the Penguins want to grab home ice advantage once again in the series with a win.
Sunday’s Pittsburgh win was so impressive due to almost every uncertainty about the recent play of the Penguins being answered. The Penguins Marc-Andre Fleury was not pressured in goal like Lundqvist but was solid the times he was pressured. Fleury stopped each of the 22 shots he faced on the night.
After Pittsburgh blew leads during its first round series against Columbus, the Penguins held the lead from a second period goal until late into the third when an insurance goal was scored and then an empty netter with second left finished the scoring.
Pittsburgh’s defense also reappeared allowing the Rangers just five shots on goal during the third period.
Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh captain has been the center of much debate the past few days. However, on Sunday, with the exception of Lundqvist in the Rangers net, Crosby was the game’s top player.
He did not score a goal for the 13th consecutive postseason game. However, he led his team with six shots and undressed defender Ryan McDonagh with an incredible move prior to rifling a slapshot over the New York goal.
At home, the Rangers need to prove they are not tired, like they looked during much of Sunday’s loss.
This will be New York’s fifth game in the past seven days. Even if fatigue does not come into play tonight for the Rangers, the team must solve their problems on the power play. On Sunday the Rangers were 0 for 4 on the power play and have not scored on 29 straight power play opportunities.
Rick Nash has disappeared on the ice for the Rangers and he needs to find himself. He did have three shots in Game 2, but still has not scored in the postseason.
Tonight’s game will swing the series in the winner’s favor taking a 2-1 lead.
Pick: Penguins 3-2