This first round series has been everything you wanted to see so far as these two teams have been battling hard for every inch of ice and so far the President Trophy winners are the ones that have come out on top.
After three periods of regulation hockey in Game 4 it would be the great season rookie sensation Kevin Hayes that earned the game winner at 3:14 of the 1st overtime period to put the Rangers ahead and lead the series 3 to 1. It was a mad scramble at Marc-Andre Fleury’s crease as both Martin St. Louis & Carl Hagelin would try to put the puck into the net, but were unsuccessful until Hayes finds the loose puck and buries it for the game winner.
But this game got started with a very poor first period by the Rangers as they got out worked and out shot with a Patric Hornqvist goal at 2:22 of the first period as he deflected a shot from the point and screened Henrik Lundqvist. It looked like the Penguins were going to take advantage of the Rangers, but not so as Lundqvist played solid in net and you could see the Rangers slowly but surely getting their game back.
The Rangers would tie the game up late in the 2nd Period by a man who has been a on a tear since the start of the playoffs. Derick Brassard converted on his third of the playoffs on a dirty goal that he tried to stuff past Fleury three times and that was the charm to get this game all tied up at 17:15 of the second period.
To force overtime you need some luck on your side of the rink and that’s what happened to Lundqvist in the middle of the period as he made a quick decision to play the puck on a shot by Evgeni Malkin that went off his right pad and left a juicy rebound for Sidney Crosby to get to, but thank goodness for Dan Girardi as he was at the right place at the right time to control the rebound and clear it away from the Penguins Captain and just cleared the puck over the stick of Crosby to continue to keep the score tied at one a piece.
If you look at this series so far within the four games the only blemish the Rangers really had was during game 2 when they lost their composure and their game allowing the Penguins to score three times in the second period and allowing Crosby to tally twice. In the three games they scored two goals and allowed the Penguins one, both Crosby and Malkin combined were non-factors and that’s how you have to play against these types of players. Continue to play solid defense on them and force shots to be wide of the net or block the shots till the final horn sounds.
The Rangers now have a strangle hold on this series leading by three games to one, but while they won’t say it and continue to say take it one game at a time, last year’s second round series saw the Penguins lead 3 to 1 and the Rangers came back to take it four to three. That will be on the minds of the Penguins and it’s up to the Rangers on Friday night to end that attempt as fast as possible.
Author: Daniel Feuerstein