[May 08, 2014]NEW YORK -- The Pittsburgh Penguins
turned in a strong defensive effort, despite being down a man, thwarting
the New York Rangers 4-2 in Game 4 of the Metropolitan Division finals
at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
The Penguins lead the best-of-seven series 3-1 and can close it
out in Game 5 on Friday in Pittsburgh. A win would put the Penguins
in the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight year. They
lost to the Boston Bruins in last season's conference final.
Pittsburgh received goals from left wingers Chris Kunitz and Jussi
Jokinen, and centers Brandon Sutter and Evgeni Malkin, who also
recorded an assist.
Left winger Carl Hagelin and center Mats Zuccarello scored for New
York, which lost back-to-back games at home and three straight
The Rangers never led in the game and spent most of the night
chasing the play. They gave the puck away 25 times and won only 18
of 49 faceoffs.
"We didn't pick a good night to manage the puck the way we did
tonight," said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. "I don't want to take
any credit away from Pittsburgh. They forced the play and they
played a real solid game without the puck that obviously forced us
into a lot of those turnovers.
"But our puck management wasn't good and that ultimately cost us the
The Rangers continued their power-play woes, failing to score on two
chances in the second period. New York hasn't scored on the power
play since Game 3 of the first round against the Philadelphia
Flyers, a streak of 36 straight chances, tying the league mark for
futility set by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2007 playoffs.
Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury faced only 14 Rangers'
shots, just four in the third period, and allowed just five goals in
four games in the series, including shutouts in Games 2 and 3.
New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves.
Pittsburgh controlled the game by employing five defensemen for most
of the night. Defenseman Brooks Orpik skated just 5:15 before
leaving the contest with an undisclosed injury. Orpik was playing in
his first game of the series after suffering an injury in the first
round against Columbus.
Defenseman Paul Martin and Kris Letang shared much of the workload
on the backline, logging 30 minutes and 27:56, respectively. In
addition to being on the ice for regular shifts, defensemen Olli
Maatta and Rob Scuderi skated on Pittsburgh's penalty kill unit.
"It was rough about 16 minutes into the game when (Brooks) Orpik
went down," said Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma. "They (New York) came
at us with a lot of speed.
"Our defense had to do an unbelievable job. I can't say enough about
the defense and what they did back there. Those five guys back there
played a lot of minutes. They are always standing up and using the
skate to defend and break up the play."
Zuccariello's back-handed goal, his third of the playoffs, cut the
Penguins lead to 3-2 at 13:07, but Kunitz scored 57 seconds later to
move Pittsburgh's lead back to two goals.
Jokinen turned around from the right circle and fired a wrist shot
from left winger James Neal at 7:02 to provide the Penguins with a
3-1 cushion and his team-leading sixth goal of the playoffs. Jokinen
is tied with Los Angeles Kings forward Marian Gaborik for the league
lead in goals in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh's third short-handed goal of the playoffs allowed it to
move ahead 2-1 at 18:27 of the second period. With Malkin serving a
tripping penalty, Letang chipped the puck ahead to center Brian
Gibbons who skated in alone on Lundqvist.
Gibbons couldn't get a shot off the sprawled Lundqvist, but Sutter,
who was trailing the play, sent the puck over the Rangers goalie for
his fourth goal of the playoffs.
"I think when you play against this team you have to realize that
every little play matters," said Rangers forward Brad Richards.
"They have the skill and they do make you pay if you're not
Hagelin tied the score at 1 in the second period when he skated
between two Pittsburgh defensemen after receiving a stretch pass
from defenseman Ryan McDonagh at 5:30. Hagelin's wrist shot ended
Fleury's scoreless streak at 145:30.
The Penguins took advantage of some sloppy play in front of the
Rangers net in grabbing a 1-0 lead early in the game. New York
defenseman Marc Staal failed to gather a loose puck eight feet to
the left of Lundqvist and Malkin was there to send a back-hander
home for his fifth goal of the playoffs just 2:31 in.
"We went after them (New York) and didn't sit back," said Pittsburgh
center Sidney Crosby. "We didn't allow them to have much time and
NOTES: RW Chris Kreider returned to the Rangers' lineup after
missing 19 games due to a broken hand. He skated on a line with C
Derek Stepan and LW Rick Nash. .... Nash's 45 shots on goal in the
playoffs led the league going into Wednesday's games, but he had yet
to score in the postseason. He led the Rangers with four shots
Wednesday. ... Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist started his 77th
consecutive playoff game.