Pittsburgh Penguins Fall in Game Four, Face Elimination From Playoffs


In perhaps the least surprising result of the Stanley Cup playoffs thus far, the Pittsburgh Penguins fell to the New York Rangers by a score of 2-1 in Game 4 of their Eastern conference quarterfinal series.

The loss drops the Pens to a 3-1 deficit in the series, with all three of those losses coming with the same 2-1 score.

Pittsburgh came as close as they possibly could’ve in this one, taking the President’s Trophy-winning Rangers to overtime, but they were still unable to find that elusive second goal.

The Pens have been notably absent in first periods throughout the series, failing to rack up more than five shots in the opening stanza through the first three game.

They certainly avoided that problem this time around, as they outshot New York 8-2 in the first period of Game 4. Just two minutes into the contest, Patric Hornqvist tallied the game’s opening goal, tipping in a point shot from defenseman Ben Lovejoy – the Swede’s second goal in as many games.

New York stormed back in the second period, outshooting Pittsburgh 13-8 and battling in front of the Pens’ net for the tying goal (courtesy of Derick Brassard).

A hard fought third period ensued, with both teams trading chances and coming close. Overtime was needed after 60 minutes expired, however.

Three minutes into the extra frame, forward Kevin Hayes finished it for New York. As has been the case all series long, the goal wasn’t a pretty one. Rather, it was the result of a battle – a chaotic scrum that saw both netminder Marc-Andre Fleury and forward Maxim Lapierre sprawl out in the crease to stop the potential shot, only to see the puck float to Hayes with the cage wide open for the picking.

With the win, the Rangers are just one victory away from eliminating the Penguins for the second consecutive season and moving on to the playoffs’ second round.

Despite the lopsided series score, the match-up has been quite a close one. Each of the four games thus far has been decided by only one goal, meaning the margin for error has been extremely slim.

Unfortunately, the Pens have certainly had their fair share of errors. Game 4 serves as perfect evidence of this as, despite getting their first period woes out of the way, numerous other issues still persisted.

For one, the Pens finished with 6 giveaways on the night, while the Rangers had only one. Not exactly a winning formula.

New York also left as the much more physical of the two, out-hitting Pittsburgh by a whopping 42 to 28.

Niether team has been especially solid on the powerplay – both went 0 for 3 tonight – but as has been the case for numerous Pens playoff series as of late, a more dangerous powerplay could have been the difference in the series up to this point.

While the Penguins now sit at their lowest of lows, just one loss away from seeing their season end earlier than expected once again, the series is far from over.

Just as the Rangers did to Pittsburgh last season, the Pens are faced with the opportunity to rally and stage a comeback against their division foes. The evidence of the possibility can easily be seen in the two teams’ last playoff meeting, when the Rangers stormed back from an identical 3-1 series deficit to beat the Penguins.

There’s certainly more to give on Pittsburgh’s end. The Pens have managed just seven goals through the first four games of the series, and four of them came in Game 2.

Pittsburgh’s second-leading scorer, Evgeni Malkin, has yet to record a point. Captain Sidney Crosby has 3 points in the series, but hasn’t yet hit the pace that allowed him to score at a 1.23 points-per-game clip during the Pens’ championship run in 2009.

Furthermore, the Pens have a few blue chips they have yet to put into play, with skilled defensemen Derrick Pouliot and Christian Ehrhoff both on the horizon. While Ehrhoff’s progression in his return from a concussion has stalled, leaving his timeframe questionable, Pouliot is said to be very close, and is a good bet to play in Game 5.

With Pittsburgh in dire need of offense from the blue line, both during 5-on-5 play and on the man-advantage, adding Pouliot could certainly be a game-changer – and may be just what the Pens need to spark Malkin, their true offensive powerhouse.

The Pens will play Game 5 back in New York on April 24th, looking to extend their season for one more game.

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