Penguins-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

Whether or not fatigue had anything to do with the New York Rangers' listless performance in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, they don't have much time to mull it over.

New York will play its fifth game in seven days Monday night when it looks to recapture the series lead in Game 3 at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers have been a victim of the NHL schedule makers in the postseason, having to play a back-to-back set to conclude a seven-game series against Philadelphia in the first round and getting no rest between this contest and a 3-0 defeat in Game 2 on Sunday in Pittsburgh.

New York shocked the Penguins on Derick Brassard's overtime goal for a 3-2 victory in Game 1 on Friday after having just one day off following their 2-1 win over the Flyers to escape the first round.

Sunday was a much different story, as the Rangers were outshot 35-22 and didn't generate many scoring chances to challenge Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who recorded his seventh career playoff shutout.

New York has lost 13 straight games when leading in a playoff series, and it will look to regroup quickly on little rest - just as it did after losing Game 6 in Philadelphia.

"There's no time here to feel sorry for ourselves," forward Martin St. Louis said. "The good thing is we get going tomorrow. We'll try and put a better foot forward tomorrow."

Coach Alain Vigneault dispelled the notion that his team is fatigued, pointing to the performance of Henrik Lundqvist, who made 32 saves and kept the Rangers in the game.

''Did my goaltender look tired? He was on top of his game,'' Vigneault said. ''If he's not tired, nobody else should be.''

The Rangers have failed to convert on their last 29 power plays after going 0 for 4 in Game 2.

"The power play ultimately is my responsibility, and I have to find the right trigger points here to make it work," Vigneault said.

"We're going to turn the page on this one and get ready for tomorrow."

Kris Letang beat Lundqvist in the second period Sunday for his 15th postseason goal, tying Larry Murphy's franchise record for a defenseman. Jussi Jokinen scored on the power play in the third, and Evgeni Malkin added an empty netter in the final minute.

Captain Sidney Crosby, the league's leading scorer and a finalist for the Hart Trophy, hasn't scored in his last 13 playoff games, but he played over 20 minutes in Game 2 - the most of any forward for either team - and finished with six shots in a much better effort than in Game 1.

"To see Sid play like that was really inspiring," Letang said. "He was really dangerous. He was making plays, in front of the net, shooting the puck like he can, and (Malkin) was, too. You saw those two guys really persevere and play one-on-one battles and winning those battles."

Crosby hasn't scored in his last nine games at Madison Square Garden, though he does have 12 assists during that stretch. Malkin has seven goals and six assists in his last 10 at MSG.

''Now the series is tied 1-1, and (we have) two games in their building,'' Jokinen said. ''I'm sure they're going to be better. We need to keep playing the way we're playing.''

Fleury has a 4.54 goals-against average in his last three road starts against the Rangers, who have won seven of nine at home in the postseason.

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