There will be Game 7.
Losing their second-straight game, the Pittsburgh Penguins fell 3-1 at the hands of the New York Rangers, setting up a do-or-die Game 7, Tuesday night, at the CONSOL Energy Center.
And, once again, the Pens’ first period was abysmal.
Playing with a heavy heart, Rangers’ forward Martin St. Louis received a pass from Derek Stepan, and potted one past Pens’ netminder Marc-Andre Fleury just 3:34 into the game. And they weren’t done.
Developing a 2-on-1 opportunity, Rangers’ forward Carl Hagelin attempted to pass, got blocked by Rob Scuderi, and then backhanded home New York’s second of the period, after he collected the rebound off the block.
Clamoring to just put one up on the board before the period concluded, Pittsburgh did just that.
Pushing hard towards the last five minutes, Matt Niskanen fired a shot on Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, to which it ricocheted off New York defenseman Kevin Klein and into the back of the net. Bradnon Sutter – who tipped it – would be awarded with the goal.
Opening the second stanza down 2-1, Pittsburgh came out blazing.
Creating quality chances left-and-right, the Pens’ poured shots on Lundqvist, but were unable to convert. However, New York was able to. Whacking away at the puck in front of the net, Rangers’ forward Derek Brassard – whose been a thorn in Pittsburgh’s side – popped the puck up, and swatted it past Fleury, giving New York a 3-1 advantage.
That’s where it would stand heading into the third, and that’s where it would finish.
Despite the valiant effort from Pittsburgh in the final period, New York did a great job of blocking shooting lanes – and shots – and all but thwarted the Pens’ attempted comeback.
Fleury was so-so. Giving up two mediocre goals to start the contest, Fleury buckled up, and stopped 26-of-29 shots in the end. But he’ll need to have a bigger performance Tuesday.
Pittsburgh played a solid outing, but, problem was, they didn’t play a full 60-minutes. Failing to bring the heat from the drop of the puck, Pittsburgh’s late arrival to the party cost them a Game 7 bout. The penalties were also detrimental.
Although New York didn’t bury a power-play goal, committing six minors can get your team extremely tired at the most inopportune times. In fact, every time Pittsburgh seemed to have something going, a penalty would end any momentum that had been built.
Defensively, Pittsburgh still wasn’t satisfactory.
I don’t know what it is, but they pick up their assignments way too late. Leaving Fleury with 1-on-1 matchups is not going to win you hockey games. If the Pens can’t clean up their act defensively, as well as emotionally, kiss their Cup hopes goodbye.
Game 7 is Tuesday.
Tags: Pittsburgh Penguins