Pittsburgh Penguins (51-24-7) at New York Rangers (45-31-6)
|Date & Time||Sunday May 11, 2014, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: New York Rangers -112 / Pittsburgh Penguins +102 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
As poorly as the New York Rangers played in Game 4 on Wednesday night was as good as they played in Game 5. Wednesday night's contest was full of turnovers, poor execution, and negativity from the home crowd. New York looked as good as dead heading back to Pittsburgh trailing in the series 3-1, but they were able to put it all behind them at least for one night. The Rangers came out strong, taking it to the Penguins from the opening face off. After drawing a power play they finally snapped their 0-for-36 skid with the man advantage when Chris Kreider banged in a rebound from a bad angle on the left side to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. New York would add to their lead when Derick Brassard was left all alone in front of the net to put home a rebound off a shot from Mats Zuccarello. It was exactly the type of start that the Rangers needed but early in the second period it looked like the tide was going to change. Evgeni Malkin split the Rangers defense of Dan Girardi and Marc Staal, getting a shot off against Henrik Lundqvist before he was able to recover the puck and fire it home to cut the deficit in half. With the crowd buzzing and the Penguins coming strong it appeared the momentum had shifted, and with almost two full periods to play Pittsburgh had plenty of time to even things up. But it was the Rangers who would answer the bell, capitalizing after catching the Penguins in a line change. Girardi's stretch pass found Zuccarello who made a nice move along the right side and after heading behind the net dropped the puck back to the top of the right circle. Anton Stralman's shot was stopped but Brassard was there with two attempts to finally put it by Marc-Andre Fleury. Just 50 seconds later with the Rangers on a power play it was Ryan McDonagh who beat Fleury with a slap shot to make it 4-1 on New York's second power play goal of the night. McDonagh played his best game of the post season and it wasn't surprising to see just how much better New York was with him giving them that kind of performance. Kevin Klein would finish the scoring in the third period with an empty net goal to lift the Rangers to the 5-1 win.
It was clear as we got into the third period that the Penguins were full of frustration. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Chris Kunitz all looked like they were playing against the Philadelphia Flyers in the post season a few years ago. In order for them to finish this series off in six games they need to get back to playing the way they did in Games 2-4. Pittsburgh has the better talent and Malkin has now scored in six consecutive games dating back to the Columbus series. If the Penguins fall behind they need to stay focused and not allow New York to take them off their game. On Sunday night the importance of the first goal might be bigger than usual. The Garden Faithful will become extremely quiet if the Penguins can find a way to take the early lead. Despite how poorly the Rangers played on Wednesday they still had a chance to win that game if they could have gotten a timely save from their goaltender. New York was thoroughly better than Pittsburgh in Game 3 but were unable to find the back of the net. It's hard to see the Rangers losing three straight on home ice in this series, even if the Penguins are the better team.