Pittsburgh Penguins Fall to Rangers, Continue Division Struggles


Coming into today’s game, the Pittsburgh Penguins held a less-than-inspiring 6-7-3 record against their own division.

After today, those 7 losses against division rivals will move to 8 as the Pens fell to the New York Rangers 5-2 on a horrendous effort.

The loss comes just days after losing 6-3 to fellow Metropolitan Division powerhouse New York Islanders – a game that saw the Isles score 4 goals in the third period to storm back for the win.

None of the Pens looked good in this one. The offense sputtered, the defense gave up quality chances consistently, and both Marc-Andre Fleury and Thomas Greiss (while both hung out to dry by their defense) dropped the ball as well.

In what ended up being a telling moment of coming events, Rangers forward Rick Nash started off the scoring just 26 seconds into the contest after the puck slipped by Kris Letang on New York’s blue line, allowing Nash to take the puck up ice all the way to the net uncontested.

Five minutes later, Derick Brassard gave New York a 2-0 lead after a shot from defenseman Kevin Klein was blocked but directed into the slot on the rebound, right to Brassard’s stick.

Pens captain Sidney Crosby did provide one triumphant moment for his squad in the first period, however, tapping in a powerplay goal near the end of the first frame to get Pittsburgh on the board.

With 4 goals in his last 4 games, Crosby has finally put his scoring problems behind him and is looking more like himself in front of opponents’ cages. Certainly not by coincidence, the Penguins’ powerplay has looked solid recently as well.

Unfortunately for the Pens, the second period swung back in New York’s favour as Nash scored his second goal of the game a couple minutes in – giving him 28 on the season for the NHL goal-scoring lead.

Derek Stepan would give the Rangers a powerplay goal of their own just a few minutes later to take New York’s lead to 4-1 by the end of the second period.

Pittsburgh’s lone bright spot in this one turned out to be the recently acquired David Perron, who has looked solid in a Pens uniform as he put up 5 points in his first 5 games with Pittsburgh.

He added two more points to the total tonight as Perron, after managing an assist on Crosby’s powerplay marker, got the Pens’ second goal of the game after a beautiful effort in the third period.

Starting from beyond the red line, Perron took a pass from Robert Bortuzzo and burst into the Rangers’ zone, showing off his slick hands as he split through two defenseman and slipped the puck through the pads of netminder Henrik Lundqvist.

While the play was certainly a pretty one, it ended up not being enough to spur the team on to a comeback victory.

New York’s Stepan ended up capitalizing on a bad neutral zone turnover from Evgeni Malkin to wire in the Rangers’ fifth goal of the game.

The contest would finish with a score of 5-2.

While Pittsburgh has looked solid for most of the season, their biggest flaw has remained an inability to beat the teams within their own division. We’ve seen it against the Rangers. We’ve seen it against the Islanders. We’ve seen it against Philly.

It simply won’t matter how well the Pens can play against the lower teams and the Western teams if they can’t get by these Metropolitan clubs come playoff time, and thus far, they haven’t seem to have taken many steps forward when it comes to that.

The one thing these other clubs have shown in division games that the Pens have not as the ability to come back from adversity.

The Islanders’ managed to claw back with four third-period goals to top the Pens. The Rangers’ ability to come back from the bring was on full display in the their last playoff meeting with Pittsburgh.

But the Pens, despite all their talent, couldn’t do it here tonight despite a whole lot of time to do so. While injuries have played a factor, the team is certainly healthy enough now to be playing better than they are.

With another tough division game coming on Tuesday against the Flyers, the Pens will have to find a solution as soon as possible.