New York Rangers (45-31-6) at Pittsburgh Penguins (51-24-7)
|Date & Time||Sunday May 4, 2014, 7:30 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Pittsburgh Penguins -152 / New York Rangers +138 --- Over/Under: 5
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All the talk of the condensed schedule affecting the New York Rangers might still hold some water as this series progresses, but in Game 1 of their Metropolitan Division Finals match up with the Pittsburgh Penguins they were able to get a huge win. With the second and third games of the series back-to-back the Rangers needed to find a way to get a split on the road more than most teams would. The Rangers came out playing like a team that had more rhythm than the Penguins, who hadn’t been on the ice since Monday’s win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Benoit Poliout got New York on the board when Marc-Andre Fleury was unable to handle his wrist shot from just inside the blue line. It was another soft goal allowed by Fleury and it gave the Rangers a shot of life. New York controlled the first period and then benefited on a mistake from the officials. Pittsburgh was called for an offsides despite keeping the puck in at the blue line and after winning the ensuing face off the Rangers dumped the puck down the ice and watched as Carl Hagelin centered to Brad Richards who scored to give them a 2-0 lead. In the second period things were completely different. The Penguins found their legs and really started skating, out shooting the Rangers 15-4 in the middle frame. Lee Stempniak made it 2-1 when his backhand shot beat Henrik Lundqvist up high, and six minutes later the Penguins were the beneficiaries of their own break from the officials. James Neal had his shot deflect straight into the air and as Henrik Lundqvist went to play it with his catching glove he was interfered with by Evgeni Malkin. The call on the ice was a good goal because the interference was missed, and after reviewing the play and determining that Malkin hadn’t made contact with a high stick, the call on the ice stood. Pittsburgh kept buzzing but weren’t able to take the lead and after a pretty even third period the two teams went to overtime. Just over three minutes into the overtime session Derick Brassard lifted the winner top shelf passed Fleury. The referee ruled no goal and play continued, with Pouliot eventually burying the puck into the back of the net, but regardless the end result was a 3-2 New York victory.
The Rangers needed to steal one of these on the road with the way the schedule sets up and to get the first one is even bigger. Now they know the Penguins are going to come hard in Game 2 but this is a free one for New York to play with. If the Rangers can match the intensity of Pittsburgh they should have another chance to take this one. With two games coming up on the road the Penguins know this is one they have to have.