After a 5-0 drubbing in Game 4 of their first-round series at
Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, the Penguins hold a 3-1
lead in the best-of-seven series. They can eliminate Rangers with a
win in Game 5 in Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon after goaltender
Matt Murray stopped 31 shots and center Evgeni Malkin delivered two
goals and two assists.
Some of the names have changed since the Penguins blew a 3-1 lead to
the Rangers during their second-round series in 2014, but otherwise
it's a carbon copy.
This performance says things probably will be different this time.
"We had a great start, had good energy," Penguins coach Mike
Sullivan said. "I thought we were fast, which is when we are at our
best. We made important decisions with the puck coming through that
neutral zone, which is an important zone for our team. And when the
time came to defend, I thought our guys we were defending pretty
Two years ago, the Penguins lost three straight -- including Games 5
and 7 at home -- with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in net, coach Dan
Bylsma behind the bench and a team that wasn't nearly as deep as
this season's squad.
The stars carried a big part of the load Thursday -- along with
Malkin's four points, center Sidney Crosby had two assists, right
winger Patric Hornqvist scored his fourth goal of the series and
defenseman Kris Letang logged 26:02 of ice time -- but it was right
winger Eric Fehr's goal that put the Penguins ahead 1-0 and left
winger Conor Sheary's goal late in the first period that made it
Throw in the fact the power play scored three times Thursday and has
six goals in three games since Malkin returned from injury and the
Penguins appear unstoppable.
"When those guys get on the ice together, they're really talented
guys when they play the right way," Sullivan said. "They take what
the game gives them. They're a hard group to stop."
Malkin's first goal early in the second period ended the night of
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who looked shaky while allowing
four goals on 18 shots. It marked the ninth time this season that
Lundqvist was relieved during a game by backup Antti Raanta.
Lundqvist coughed up a juicy rebound that led to Fehr's goal and was
beat cleanly on two unscreened but difficult shots of the sticks of
Sheary and Malkin before he was yanked.
[to top of second column]
"I'm not going to analyze it too much -- I'm just going to say I was
not good enough," Lundqvist said. "It was just a really bad game. I
need to be better, simple as that. I don't need to say more than
The Rangers kept their locker room closed for several minutes longer
than usual afterward. Center Eric Staal said there was a discussion
about how everyone, not just Lundqvist, needs to be better.
"I think everyone individually wants to be better next game," Staal
said. "I think we talked quickly after this game to make sure that
everyone has a response to have a big pushback in Pittsburgh. To a
man, we are going to make sure we prepare properly and get one out
on the road and go from there."
In Game 5 two years ago, Fleury allowed four goals on 34 shots. This
year, it will be a rookie coming off his first career postseason
shutout between the pipes.
"A win is a win; it feels good," Murray said. "At the same time, at
this point in the season, it really doesn't matter until you win the
fourth one. I know it's cliche and you guys hate hearing it, but we
are taking it one game at a time. That's how you have to approach
these types of situations. We'll enjoy this one for the night and
NOTES: Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) still has not
dressed in the series. ... The Penguins used the same lineup as they
did in Game 3, scratching D Justin Schultz and RW Beau Bennett. ...
Rangers C Kevin Hayes was a healthy scratch. He recorded no points
in the first three games of the series. He was replaced by C Oscar
Lindberg, who has spent most of the past month as a healthy scratch.
It was Lindberg's third game since March 13. ... Rangers D Dan
Girardi missed his third consecutive game with an undisclosed
injury. ... Rangers D Dylan McIlrath and D Raphael Diaz were healthy
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.