The New York Rangers did it again, beating the Penguins, this time on the road. It was a dominant performance by the Rangers until a third period power play goal by Pittsburgh. That led to a big push by the Pens and the wildest final 2:32 of any game this season. That’s two in a row over the team that they will likely play in the first round of the playoffs.
We may talk about the goals scored by Chris Kreider or the saves by Igor Shesterkin, but it was a textbook display of defense by the Rangers. They allowed the Penguins only 18 shots on goal over the first 50 minutes of the game.
It was a total team effort, highlighted by a relentless forecheck that stymied the Penguins’ high powered offense. Pittsburgh never got their transition game going.
As a playoff preview, this game is a clear indication that the Rangers won’t be easy to beat. The combination of superior goaltending, outstanding defense, along with the offensive depth provided at the deadline, this team is pretty damned good.
Gerard Gallant had high praise for the Blueshirts’ effort. He called it one of their best games. “I thought tonight was the best we moved the puck out of the defensive zone than we did whole year. Our D made quick plays up the ice, the transition was really good, not a whole lot of mistakes tonight…we played two great games against that team…we needed 20 games and they all worked hard and found a way to get a big win.”
Kreider talked about the defensive effort. “It was a good team effort, a good road win…the easiest way to defend is by playing offense, making their defensemen turn, and trying to force them into turnovers…it’s taking away their time and space, something we did really well in New York when we played them and for pretty good stretches tonight.”
Braden Schneider made a great defensive play just before he scored his second NHL goal. The rookie talked about the win. “It’s awesome. We have such a great room of guys. To be part of this is special…it’s getting harder and harder and faster and faster each game.”
The Rangers’ transition game was obvious as the Penguins iced the puck nine times in the first period alone.