Penguins Win Game 5, Ending Rangers’ 2015-16 Season

The Penguins scored four goals in the 2nd period to break open a tie game, and went on to beat the Rangers, 6-3, Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh, ending New York’s season. The Penguins won the 1st Round playoff series, 4 games to 1, and move on to face the winner of the Washington-Philadelphia series.

Brian Rust had two goals and an assist in that 2nd period to spark the Penguins, as five different players scored for Pittsburgh in the game. Backup Penguins goalie Matt Murray made 38 saves in the win.

It was the Blueshirts’ earliest exit from the playoffs since the 2010-11 season.

After splitting the first two games of this series with Pittsburgh, the final three games were about as bad a three-game stretch as the Rangers played all season. In the Game 3 loss at The Garden, the Rangers mustered a season-low 17 shots on goal. The 5-0 loss in Game 4 at The Garden was the most lopsided loss of the season, a long, depressing slog in front of the home fans. Arguably the low-water mark of the season. And Saturday’s season-ending Game 5 loss was a slow, painful way to finish.

The Rangers started the game with more hustle, heart, and energy than in Games 3 and 4, and, as a result, 62 seconds into the 1st period, they took a 1-0 lead. Rick Nash deflected Dan Girardi’s slapshot from the blue line past Murray for his 2nd goal of the series. It was the first time in the series that the Blueshirts had scored a goal in the 1st period.

Then came a frenetic two-minute stretch midway through the 1st period that saw the teams score three goals. Pittsburgh tied the game at 9:50 when former Ranger Carl Hagelin passed the puck behind the net to Phil Kessel. Kessel’s return pass was redirected in by Hagelin for a goal and a 1-1 tie.

45 seconds later, the Rangers regained the lead. Jesper Fast‘s shot hit the post and was deflected into the goal off the skate of a Pittsburgh player, but the goal was credited to Dominic Moore, at 10:35, that made the score 2-1.

Kessel evened the game up with a power play goal just over a minute later. His wrist shot deflected off the shaft of Henrik Lundqvist‘s stick and into the net for a goal at 11:39 that made it 2-2. The Penguins scored power play goals in all five games of the series.

Then came the 2nd period, as disastrous a 20-minute period as the Rangers had all season. The Penguins scored four goals to take a soul-crushing 6-2 lead. Rust scored twice, and Matt Cullen and Conor Sheary added goals.

Antti Raanta replaced Lundqvist to start the 3rd period. It was the 10th time this season that Lundqvist was pulled from a game. He gave up 15 goals in the series.

In the 3rd, Chris Kreider deflected a Raphael Diaz shot past Murray at 5:38 for a power play goal that made it 6-3.

The team has numerous decisions to make in the off-season, and the quest for another Stanley Cup will start again in October.





Rangers On The Brink Of Elimination After Game 4 Loss To Penguins

Evgeni Malkin scored two power play goals and backup goalie Matt Murray stopped all 31 shots he faced as the Penguins blanked – and spanked – the Rangers 5-0 Thursday night at The Garden, in Game 4 of their 1st Round playoff series. The win gives Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 5 is Saturday in Pittsburgh.

The five-goal margin was the Rangers’ most lopsided loss of the season, and it was the Blueshirts’ worst playoff loss since a 6-1 loss to New Jersey in April 2006. The Rangers have now lost five straight home playoff games.

The Penguins’ offense got going early, scoring just 69 seconds into the 1st period. Ben Lovejoy‘s slapshot was stopped by Henrik Lundqvist, but Eric Fehr put the rebound in for a goal and a 1-0 lead.

Pittsburgh made it 2-0 minutes later, scoring the first of three power play goals on the night. With Rick Nash in the penalty box for interference, Malkin’s wrist shot was deflected in by Patric Hornqvist at 7:11. Then Conor Sheary made it 3-0 at 16:12, blocking a pass from Kevin Klein, and skating in on Lundqvist and scoring.

Malkin scored his first of the night, blasting a slapshot past Lundqvist 4:00 into the 2nd period to make it 4-0. Lundqvist was pulled from the game during a timeout about two minutes later, after giving up four goals.

Malden’s scored his other power play goal 3:28 into the 3rd period, redirecting a pass from Brian Dumoulin past Antti Raanta to make it 5-0. Malkin finished the night with two goals and two assists.

Pittsburgh has scored a power play goal in each of the four games, and has seven power play goals in the series. The New York power play was 0-for-4 on the night and is 1-for-16 in the series.

After the team’s inspiring win in Pittsburgh in Game 2, the Rangers have been outplayed in back-to-back home games. Two straight flat, underwhelming performances. They now face a win-or-go-home situation Saturday in Pittsburgh.


Penguins Hold Rangers to 17 Shots on Goal, Take 2-1 Series Lead

Matt Cullen‘s goal 4:16 into the 3rd period gave the Penguins the lead, and a stifling Pittsburgh defense held the Rangers to only 17 shots on goal, as the Penguins beat the Blueshirts, 3-1, Tuesday night at The Garden. The win gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven playoff series. Game 4 is Thursday night at The Garden.

The 17 shots on goal were a season-low for the Rangers.

Backup goalie Matt Murray, playing in place of Marc-Andre Fleury, made 16 saves in his NHL playoff debut and got the victory.

Henrik Lundqvist made 28 saves in the loss, and Rick Nash scored the only Rangers goal.

The Rangers thought they had taken a 1-0 lead midway through the 1st period. Chris Kreider scored a power play goal at 12:56, but the Penguins challenged the play, claiming J.T. Miller was offsides moments before the goal. The replay review overturned the goal, and the 1st period finished 0-0.

In the first minute of the 2nd period, Nash gave the Blueshirts a 1-0 lead, taking a pass from Kevin Klein and beating Murray for a shorthanded goal just 39 seconds into the period.

Later in the 2nd period, the Penguins evened the game. With Marc Staal in the penalty box for hooking, Evgeni Malkin got the puck to Phil Kessel who passed to Sidney Crosby; Crosby deflected the puck past Lundqvist for a power play goal at 19:18 to tie the game, 1-1.

Then in the 3rd, a turnover led to Pittsburgh’s go-ahead goal. Dan Boyle lost the puck near the Rangers’ blue line, and collided with Keith Yandle as both players tried to gain control of the puck. Cullen picked up the loose puck, skated in alone on Lundqvist and scored  at 4:16 to make it 2-1.

Kris Letang scored an empty net goal with 12 seconds to play for the final 3-1 margin.

Rangers, With Lundqvist Back in Net, Top Penguins, Even Series 1-1

The Rangers scored two goals in an 18-second span of the 2nd period, and rebounded from their Game 1 loss to out-muscle and outscore the Penguins, 4-2, Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh. The win evened the best-of-seven series, 1-1.

Henrik Lundqvist, who was injured in the 1st period of Wednesday’s loss, was back in the staring lineup Saturday, making 29 saves for the win. It was his 112th straight post-season start for the Rangers.

Derrick Brassard has a goal and two assists, and J.T. Miller had three assists. Phil Kessel scored both Pittsburgh goals.

After a scoreless 1st period, the Penguins jumped out to a 1-0 lead early in the 2nd period. Kessel finished off a 3-on-2 odd man rush, taking a pass from Trevor Daley and beating Lundqvist to score a power play goal at 3:21.

Midway through the period, the Blueshirts’ offense began to click. Keith Yandle evened the score at 12:38, picking up a loose puck just outside the crease and lifting the puck over Jeff Zatkoff for the goal. 18 seconds later, Brassard gave the Rangers their first lead of the series, taking a long pass up-ice from Miller and beating Zatkoff stick-side to make it 2-1. The goal was reviewed to see if Brassard was offsides, but the goal stood.

Mats Zuccarello made it 3-1 later in the 2nd period, taking a cross-ice pass from Miller and scoring his 7th career playoff goal at 16:52. That made it three unanswered goals in a 4:14 stretch of the period.

Chris Kreider made it 4-1 just 39 seconds into the 3rd period; his wrist shot deflected in off Daley and past Zatkoff. Later in the period, with both Kreider and Yandle in the penalty box, Kessel scored another power play goal at 5:42 for the final 4-2 margin.

Lundqvist was sharp, moving well and making several terrific saves, including one in the 2nd period where he stopped Bryan Rust on a breakaway.

The Blueshirts were the more aggressive and more physical team Saturday; they were credited with 57 hits.

Game 3 is Tuesday night at The Garden.



Rangers Recall Goalie Magnus Hellberg from Hartford

With Henrik Lundqvist‘s status listed as day-to-day, following his injury in Wednesday’s Game 1 loss to Pittsburgh, the Rangers recalled goalie Magnus Hellberg from Hartford of the AHL.

The team has not made any announcements about Lundqvist’s injury or when he might return to action. The recall of Hellberg is a sign that Lundqvist will not be ready for Game 2 in Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon. Antti Raanta would get the start, with Hellberg as the backup.

Helberg appeared in one game this season for the Blueshirts; he played the 3rd period of a 7-3 loss to Washington on December 20th.

Lundqvist Injured as Rangers Lose Game 1 to Penguins, 5-2

Patric Hornqvist scored a hat trick, and third-string goalie Jeff Zatkoff made 35 saves in his NHL playoff debut, as the Penguins beat the Rangers, 5-2, Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. Henrik Lundqvist was injured in the 1st period, and is listed as day-to-day with an apparent eye injury.

Derek Stepan scored both New York goals.

Lundqvist was hurt with 48 seconds to play in the 1st period. Marc Staal was boxing out in front of the goal, and his stick caught Lundqvist between the bars of his mask and hit him near his right eye. Lundqvist was treated and stayed in the game, but 30 seconds later Hornqvist gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead with a shot that trickled underneath Lundqvist’s pads.

The Rangers were the more aggressive team in the 1st period, throwing shot after shot on the Pittsburgh goal, but Zatkoff was up to the task, making 12 saves in the period.

Antti Raanta started the 2nd period in goal for the Rangers in place of Lundqvist, and the pace of the game slowed way down. Late in the period, Hornqvist blocked a shot and passed the puck ahead to Sidney Crosby, who had gotten behind the Rangers’ defense. Crosby beat Raanta to the glove side for a goal that made it 2-0 at 18:56. It was Crosby’s 44th career playoff goal.

The Rangers had a huge opportunity early in the 3rd period, when Ian Cole and former Blueshirt Carl Hagelin were each called for penalties at 2:08, giving the Rangers a 5-on-3 for two minutes. Stepan scored a power play goal at 3:10 to make it a 2-1 game.

But the Penguins scored a shorthanded goal minutes later. Nick Bonino and Tom Kuhnhackl broke in on Raanta on a 2-on-1, and Kuhnhackl scored at 5:31 to make it 3-1.

The Penguins added a power play goal at 8:02 to make it 4-1. Crosby’s shot was stopped, but Hornqvist put the rebound in for his second goal of the game.

But the Rangers did not quit. Stepan scored his second of the game, taking the rebound of a Dan Boyle shot and scoring at 10:11 to make it 4-2.

Hornqvist added an empty net goal at 17:10 to complete his hat trick and make it a 5-2 final.

Game 2 is Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh, as we await news of the extent of Lundqvist’s injury.

Rangers-Penguins 1st Round Playoff Schedule

Game 1: Wed 4/13, 8pm: NYR @ PIT | on USA

Game 2: Sat 4/16, 3pm: NYR @ PIT | on NBC

Game 3: Tue 4/19, 7pm: PIT @ NYR | on USA

Game 4: Thu 4/21, TBD: PIT @ NYR | TV TBD

Game 5 [if necessary] Sat 4/23, time TBD:  NYR @ PIT | TBD

Game 6 [if necessary] Mon 4/25, time TBD:  PIT @ NYR | TBD

Game 7 [if necessary] Wed 4/27, time TBD:  NYR @ PIT | TBD

Rangers Close Out Regular Season with 3-2 Win Over Red Wings

Kevin Hayes scored the go-ahead goal with 5:38 to play, and the Rangers held on, closing out the regular season with a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings Saturday afternoon, on Fan Appreciation Day at The Garden. Antti Raanta made 31 saves for his 11th win of the season, including 7 wins in his last 8 starts. Oscar Lindberg had a goal and an assist.

The Rangers will play either Pittsburgh or Florida in the 1st round of the playoffs. But they must now wait for the results of the Islanders’ games Saturday night vs Buffalo and Sunday afternoon against Philadelphia before the Blueshirts will know who their playoff opponent will be.

Dan Boyle got the Rangers on the board first with his 10th goal of the season, at 16:24 of the 1st period, skating nearly the length of ice, off a pass from Chris Kreider.

In the 2nd period. Detroit’s Riley Sheahan scored a power play goal at 6:24 of the period to tie the game, 1-1. Sheahan, camped out in front of Raanta, deflected a shot by Pavel Datsyuk for the goal.

Then in the 3rd, Hayes deflected a Dylan McIlrath slapshot past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard at 14:22 of the 3rd period to put the Rangers up 2-1. It was Hayes’ 14th goal of the season.

Lindberg added an empty net goal with 2:36 to play to make it 3-1. But Detroit made it interesting late. With Howard pulled for an extra attacker, Justin Abdelkader scored at 18:26 to make it 3-2, but, even with a couple of New York penalties in the closing moments, the Rangers held on for the win.

The Blueshirts played the game with Mats Zuccarello (rest), Viktor Stalberg (rest), Dan Girardi (injury), and Ryan McDonagh (injury). Eric Staal was injured in the closing moments of the 2nd period and did not return

The Rangers finished the regular season with a record of 46-27-9 for 101 points, the second straight season they exceeded 100 points. By comparison, they were 53-22-7 [113 pts] in 2014-15, and were 45-31-6 [96 pts] in 2013-14, the year they lost in the Stanley Cup Finals.

On to the post-season.

Rangers Lose to Islanders, 4-1, Fall Into 3rd Place Tie

Thomas Greiss made 36 saves, and the Islanders used three goals in the 2nd period to break the game open, as they beat the Rangers, 4-1, Thursday night at The Garden. The Islanders swept the season series against the Rangers, four games to none.

The loss dropped the Rangers into a tie for 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division with the Islanders. The Blueshirts have one game remaining in the regular season while the Islanders have two games left. The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals Thursday, on a Sidney Crosby goal in overtime, clinching 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Rangers will either finish in 3rd place in the division and face the Penguins in the 1st round, or will make the playoffs as a Wild Card team and face the Florida Panthers.

After a scoreless 1st period, the Islanders made the most of limited shots in the 2nd period and took a big lead. Just past the halfway point of the period. Marek Zidlicky took a slapshot from just inside the blue line that appeared to be going wide of the net, but Shane Prince deflected the puck, which then went off Dan Boyle‘s leg and into the net for a goal and a 1-0 lead at 13:28.

The Islanders made it 2-0 later in the 2nd period. Casey Cizikas, off a pass from Prince, beat Henrik Lundqvist at 18:38 to make it 2-0. It was Cizikas’ first goal in his last 16 games.

But they weren’t done. With Keith Yandle in the penalty box for tripping, Frans Neilsen took a cross-ice pass from John Tavares and scored a power play goal with 14.8 seconds to go in the period to make it 3-0 Islanders. It was Neilsen’s 7th power play goal of the season.

The Rangers peppered Greiss with 28 shots in the first two periods, but Greiss was up to the task, holding the Blueshirts without a goal after two periods.

Antti Raanta replaced Lundqvist and played the 3rd period in goal for the Rangers. Kevin Klein spoiled Greiss’ shutout late in the period, scoring on a slapshot with 2:48 to play that made it 3-1. Tavares scored an empty net goal with 32 seconds to play for the final 4-1 margin.

The Blueshirts were without Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi; both defensemen missed the game with injuries.

The Rangers [now 45-27-9, 99 pts] finish off the regular season Saturday afternoon at The Garden when they host the Detroit Red Wings.


Zuccarello Wins Steven McDonald Award

Mats Zuccarello was announced as the winner of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award before tonight’s game at The Garden. It was the second time Zuccarello has won in the award in the last three seasons.