Eventually and inevitably Sidney Crosby was going to become a factor in this series.
Although the Rangers usually do a good job bottling up both Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, tonight wasn’t the night and the Blueshirts lost a golden opportunity to take control of this series in their 4-3 loss.
“I don’t think we gave (Crosby) too much space, it was just they were better today at getting in front of the net and getting the loose pucks,” said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. “It’s kind of how they beat us on a couple of rebounds there.”
Look, if you leave Crosby out of it, the Rangers had their chances. With the Penguins giving them seven power plays, it’s the Blueshirts need to capitalize on them. By converting only one, they are relying on even strength power and today, the Penguins did a great job at closing off lanes that New York usually enjoys.
“Our penalty kill did a great job,” No. 87 said. “It’s not easy to have that many in a game, especially a playoff game. I thought all the killers did a great job. We had a couple of guys go in there that don’t typically go in. The Rangers do such a great job you just try and make sure to do your job wen you are out there.”
It seems like no matter the personnel, the Rangers always struggle on the power play. They have since for almost 11 years and only in small spurts were they successful. This year they brought in both Dan Boyle and Keith Yandle to handle the power play quarterbacking and still they were one for seven tonight.
It’s just not good enough, especially in the post season.
“They scored two and we got one,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “We were better in the third on the power play, but they ended up making us pay.”
“We could have taken the game over there with the power play opportunities,” said Captain Ryan McDonagh. “Give Pittsburgh credit. They were able to capitalize more than us.”
Make no mistake the Blueshirts could have had this game. The first two periods looked like NYCFC playing in midtown rather than the Rangers, lulling the crowd to sleep.
It was only in the third when the Rangers came out like a house afire, first scoring on the power play and then almost going out of control on a second.
But then the Rangers became undisciplined on Kevin Hayes hooking call, which caused the fourth goal to be scored.
It’s something the Rangers need to overcome if they are going to win this series.
“They are a really good team,” Lundqvist said. “We knew that going into the series. We can’t just look at what they did the last couple of weeks of the season. They are a strong team and they had a great season for the most part. We knew they were going to come in with this energy. There are a couple of things we can talk about and try to do better in Pittsburgh on Monday.”
They better or this series can get out of control.