When you play at MSG, you need all guns blazing. The Pens didn't have that, and they still almost gutted one out. Down Kris Letang and Michalek Island, the Pens were just a little overmatched on defense, although call-ups Robert Bortuzzo and Andre Picard played their sacs off. Not even sure what the culprit was in this game. Maybe it's just the Rangers are the hottest team in the world at home right now. Always scary to start pointing fingers at certain Penguins when the team's engine doesn't have all its cylinders. You don't take Kris Letang's 25+ minutes per game out of the lineup and not expect a hiccup or two.
Then again, the Pens did basically beat themselves. They had three early power plays and only got one goal. Then, in the third period they took infinite penalties. Can't do that. Rangers aren't even that good, so we're not worried about it. They're just hot right now. They've beaten the down-and-out Caps, the enigmatic Flyers, and the Pens three straight games. Whatever that means.
Best way to sum up the first period was missed chances. Penguins had 35 powerplays and couldn't cash in. TK and Avery tried to fight once. ROOT Sports missed it. It wasn't even a fight, so they only got two minutes. So when TK and Avery got out of the box two minutes later, they fought again. Pens had the puck in the Rangers' zone with a big-time scoring chance. Probably not the best time to fight. Just sayin'.
They have a history of scraps. Here
Crosby jumped onto the ice, and Engelland had a crazy chance and hit the pipe. Then it was back and forth for a while. Borts and Picard looked shell-shocked on their first shift on the ice, but they reallllly settled down after that. Pumped. Borts drew a tripping call after a Malkin turnover. Pens jumped on the PP. Sullivan had a chance after a feed from Crosby but passed up the shot.
Soon after that, the Pens were getting another PP when Prust jobbed Adams. Only thing worthy of note on that PP was that borderline offsides call when Sullivan kept it in the zone. No replay of it afterward, strangely enough.
Toward the end of the period, Joe Vitale basically willed a Pens power play. At the end of his shift, he could've just parked in front of Lundqvist, took a couple whacks, and went to the bench. Instead he was in King Henrik's kitchen like that TV chef who screams at people. Fifth Avenue Joe should've been given an assist on the Pens eventual power-play goal scored by Neal on a nice backhand dish from Crosby. Little margin for error on that Crosby pass. Went right where it had to.
Special Delivery for John Tortorella after his team got out-worked in the first period. He had a pretty lengthy to discussion with one of the referees during the first intermission.
The second period was as close to Chernobyl as we have seen this season. One day we'll have to go back and check, but we're pretty sure that the Rangers have caused more Chernobyl meltdowns than any other team during the Chernobyl era.
Rangers cried enough, so they finally got a powerplay. They went to town. Tommy Callahan tapped one in on the PP. And all of a sudden, it was all Rangers all the time. MAF started to see more shots than Alvin York. Pens regrouped, and Neal had a scoring chance off a turnover. Lundqvist city.
Then the Rangers got a lucky bounce on a clearing pass and were off on a 3-on-3 rush. Pens didn't exactly play it to well. Arthur Mitchell says Hello, Marc-Andre Fleury's high glove side. 2-1.
Four seconds later, Brad Richards got some room. All he needed. 3-1.
Then Marian Gaborik scored. 4-1.
Man. But the rumors on Twitter of the Pens' death were greatly exaggerated.
Then came Cooke's no-goal/goal/wtf. Here's the rule:
Basically, imagine Letang taking a slapper from the point. Cooke deflects it with a high stick. The puck then hits the goalie and goes in. That's never been a goal as long as we've been watching hockey. A lot of people, us included, were confused about the rule because this rule is also in the rulebook:
The key word is "bat." It definitely means batting it with a stick. Reminded us of the time Malkin got that penalty coming out of the box because he played the puck without fully leaving the box. The rule's in the rulebook. Game over.
But that no-goal was a shot in the arm. Just when it looked like nothing good was going to come from the period, the Pens got a late goal from Malkin. Neal had a nice shot on net.. The puck bounced right to Malkin. Malkin buried it and went crashing into the boards. 4-2.
The Pens kept it up to start the third. Dupes scored some goal, and the Pens were right back in business.
The Rangers were ripe for the picking after Chris Kunitz embarrassed Ryan McDonagh by letting go of his stick while McDonagh was holding it. The smirk on Kunitz's face was amazing. But the PP didn't do much. Then MAF was under fire as the game slipped to under 10 minutes left.
Neal-Staal-Kennedy had a coke shift. Staal was a force all game. Then out of nowhere, Malkin jumped into the shift. Pens had a fresh body amongst all the tired Rangers. Then Chris Kunitz appeared. He plowed into some Ranger with all the intensity every Pens fan was feeling at the time. But Malkin had broken that dude's stick, and so began a parade to the box.
Then Deryk Engelland slashed someone, so the Pens had to kill a 5-on-3. For the second half of that PK, Orpik was abusing Callahan in front of the net. The referee let him take his shots, but he took it too far, so the Pens were jumping right back on another 5-on-3 PK. And they killed all of it. Whether you watching MAF's poise in net or Craig Adams' positioning, it was good shit.
Finally, with the penalty box empty, the Pens could make a final push. But 17 seconds after Orpik left the box, Koonie "boarded" Fedetenko. Strange call. Crosby's body language afterward told the story, looking to the heavens in frustration. And he doesn't do that if it would show up a teammate. It was done to show the disbelief in both referees falling for Fedetenko's act.
Pens killed that penalty, but they just didn't have enough time to do anything. Game.
Thursday will be fun.