The Pittsburgh Penguins faced down an unsettling scenario of going down 0-2 at home against the New York Rangers and instead gutted out a 3-0 win in Game 2, tying the second-round series at 1-1 on Sunday.
For those breathlessly wondering: no, Sidney Crosby didn’t score his first goal of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, so have at it if you’re dying to linger on that “crisis.”
Luckily for the Penguins, Crosby isn’t the only star they can turn to. Evgeni Malkin (one goal, one assist) and Kris Letang (one goal and two assists) demonstrated that much quite emphatically on Sunday night. It’s also worth noting that Crosby made his presence felt even if he didn’t score; he fired six shots on goal and often gave fantastic Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh fits in Game 2.
The more pressing slump revolves around the Rangers’ revolting power play. The Rangers went 0-for-4 on the man advantage for the second straight game, prompting inevitable “decline the power play” jokes. After connecting on three of 12 power-play opportunities in their first two games in a first-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Rangers have now gone seven straight games without a power-play goal (0-for-25 in that span).
Marc-Andre Fleury grabbed his seventh career postseason shutout, breaking Tom Barrasso’s franchise mark for the Penguins. The Rangers didn’t force him to sweat all that much; he only needed to make 22 saves. Henrik Lundqvist often kept his team in the game in making 32 out of 34 stops, yet he faces down a loss.
The Rangers must once again show some resiliency as Game 3 happens on Monday. Even with home-ice advantage at Madison Square Garden, they’re still the less-rested team.
Interestingly, the Flyers beat the Rangers in Philly in Game 6 on Tuesday before New York wrapped things up at home in Game 7 on Wednesday. This isn’t as huge of a back-to-back for the Blueshirts, yet it may still be deflating to go from being up 1-0 against the Penguins to down 2-1 in a matter of 48 hours.
On paper, the quick turnaround benefits the Penguins, but we’ll see which team will gain the 2-1 advantage tomorrow.
- James O'Brien, NBC Sports