The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the New York Rangers in every phase of the game on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, coming away with a decisive 4-1 victory.
The Rangers had enjoyed great success against their division rivals this season, winning the first two games of the series. But Thursday night was a completely different story, as Evgeni Malkin and company took it to the Blueshirts from start to finish.
It took the Penguins only three minutes and sixteen seconds to get on the scoreboard, as Chris Kunitz beat Henrik Lundqvist off of a rebound. The Penguins controlled the puck and had the Rangers on their heels for most of the first period.
The Rangers came out with more energy in the second period and slowed down the Pittsburgh attack. Halfway through the period Marion Gaborik hit Carl Hagelin with a sensational cross-ice saucer pass and Hagelin just got it past Pens netminder Marc Andre Fleury. But that was all the Rangers would get.
The third period was owned by the Penguins. Early in the period Marc Staal made a critical mental error that led to a three-on-one for Pittsburgh. Richard Park buried the shot from the low slot and put Pittsburgh ahead for good.
“It was a bad short side pinch, and we can’t do that shiner a team like this, we lose our back check,” said John Tortorella in his post game press conference. Evgeni Malkin would put two more in the net for Pittsburgh to seal the 4-1 victory.
The Rangers could not get any rhythm going all game. The Penguins used a good forecheck and control of the puck to keep the Rangers off of their game and took advantage of opportunities. The Rangers had two power play opportunities, but could not capitalize on the man advantage. The Rangers power play has been anemic the past several games and seems to be hurting the team more than helping it.
The Rangers must get back to playing the kind of hockey that put them atop the Eastern Conference. It won’t get any easier as the Rangers head to Boston to play the red hot Bruins. The Bruins lead the league with a plus seventy one goal differential and have the best goalie tandem in the NHL. The Penguins, winners of four straight, will host the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow night.