Mar. 15, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Matt Cooke (24) scores a goal on New York Rangers goalie Martin Biron (43) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Rangers Fall 5-2 To Penguins On Crosby Night

First Period Highlights/Thoughts:

The game started off all Penguins and they scored 2:48 into the game with Crosby on the ice (no he didn’t get a point). The Rangers left the entire left side of the ice completely open and Matt Cooke shot popped up in the air, and Stu Bickel tried to catch it but it eluded him a bit and went into the net. I really advise you watch this goal because Stu Bickel tried his best Luis Castillo impression trying to catch the puck.

Then the Rangers slowly started chipping away, and hitting. Girardi and Boyle knocked Malkin to the ice on the same shift which got loud cheers from the crowd. Then the HaGaRich line (my nickname for the Hagelin, Richards, and Gaborik line) started some havoc in the Penguins zone and Hagelin found the back of the net after some serious hacking away by Richards and Hagelin.

Marty Biron was strong and definitely kept the Rangers in this game during some long stretches of the Penguins in the Rangers zone. 

Second Period Highlights/Thoughts:

The Penguins came out flying. On two defensive lapses by the Rangers the Pens buried a couple quick goals to take a 3-1 lead and seemed pretty content controlling the play. Once again though, the Rangers responded with a goal. Take a guess which line scored? Yeah the HaGaRich line. A beauty of a pass from Richards to Gaborik set up the shot that beat Fluery under the blocker, and over the pad.

Stu Bickel then took a 4 minute minor for a high stick that drew blood from the face of Jordan Staal. With about 30 seconds left in the period, and into the Pens power play, Chris Kunitz took a slash that led to a couple good 4 on 4 chances for the Rangers.

Overall, it was a terrible first 10 minutes to begin the period but the Rangers responded getting some chances on their own.

Third Period Highlights/Analysis

The Rangers simply put were terrible. They were terrible defensively, and couldn’t get anything going offensively. The Penguins scored two goals with Crosby getting a primary assist on a Chris Kunitz goal that Biron should have stopped. This was another head scratching goal that Biron let up. You really learn to value Henrik Lundqvist when Biron lets in soft goals like that. It was one of the worst periods I think I’ve seen the Rangers play all year.

Final Thoughts:

-While I’m ecstatic the Rangers have a top line that can score plenty of goals, the other three lines have definitely fallen off the map.

-Reffing was again an issue in these Rangers-Penguins games. Gaborik was clearly tripped up and the ref missed it. I have no argument with the calls that the referees called, but there were some non-calls that should have been called.

-Rangers need Callahan, Del Zotto, and Lundqvist back. Enough said.

-I pleaded for Zuccarello, and now I’m pleading for Tim Erixon. Steve Eminger and Stu Bickel are beginning to make too many mistakes and Erixon’s youth could be a good infusion.

-The Rangers weren’t playing at full strength tonight, and the Penguins were. I’m not going to base my judgement on this one game to see if the Rangers could possibly beat the Penguins in a playoff series.

-Anisimov hurt his shoulder tonight. It didn’t look pleasant, but it didn’t look too horrific either. Curious to see if he’ll be out any length of time.

Be sure to follow me on twitter @Matt_J1.

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Tags: Brad Richards Carl Hagelin Henrik Lundqvist Marian Gaborik Ryan Callahan Sidney Crosby Steve Eminger Stu Bickel Tim Erixon

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