New York Rangers score five unanswered goals to down Penguins

The New York Rangers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 on Monday night. New York scored five unanswered goals after a putrid start to the evening, winning a statement game against the defending Stanley Cup Champions.

In a feature here at Blue Line Station, we will be providing thoughts and analysis following every Rangers game. Make sure to stop by after games to see what you might have missed!

Game Action:

-The game started with a strong shift by Brandon Pirri and company, but the fortune soon changed. In his NHL debut, Jake Guentzel wristed an innocent shot at Antti Raanta. Goal.

-As far as goals are concerned, it was completely unacceptable from Raanta. Knowing the context of the Rangers performance in Pittsburgh last postseason, it was even worse.

-New York followed up the goal against by letting Pittsburgh dominate play. Penguins chance after Penguins chance reached Raanta, who did his best to limit the damage. One shift with Nick Holden and Marc Staal on the ice against Sidney Crosby lasted longer than most NHL players get to spend in the league.

-Unfortunately for Raanta, the rest of the team did not appear committed to the cause. A Jimmy Vesey turnover handed the Penguins an odd man rush with Kevin Klein attempting to stop it. The rush went about as one would expect it to. Shot, rebound, rebound, goal.  2-0 Penguins.

-At one point Klein had a chance to clear the puck out but failed. Nothing Raanta could do about that one.

-Down 2-0, the Rangers decided to pick up their physical play. A fine idea in theory, but it did not address the real problem. Turnovers continued to pile up, the Penguins continued to carry play, and an Oscar Lindberg unforced turnover nearly handed the Penguins a 3-0 lead.

-After one period the Rangers managed to escape down 2-0 on the scoreboard, 15-11 in shots.

-The first five minutes of the second period was disastrous for the Rangers, but Raanta kept the score 2-0. Rick Nash brought the puck up ice and attempted a pass, only to see Justin Schultz slide and block it. Nash picked up the loose puck and fired it past Marc-Andre Fleury. 2-1.

-Almost immediately after the goal came a Jesper Fast penalty to kill the momentum. New York killed it off and play stalled for a bit until Sidney Crosby took a penalty of his own.

-The ensuing man advantage did not result in a goal, but it paved the way for one. Pittsburgh had a tired group on the ice following the end of the Power-Play, and the Rangers capitalized. Michael Grabner deposited a rebound of a Ryan McDonagh shot into the net. 2-2.

-In a night filled with horrific both ways, Brady Skjei was called for interference for breathing in Bryan Rust’s vicinity.

-Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller did not seem to mind the call. Miller poked a pass away and sent Kevin Hayes flying up the wing. Hayes passed it off of Miller and into the net. At this point Hayes’ talent is resulting in his scoring goals for his teammates.  3-2 Rangers, 27-23 Rangers lead in shots after two.

-A strange turn of events transpired next, as the Rangers dominated the first 13 minutes of the third period. Stunningly, New York did not shell with the lead at all.

-Firing on all cylinders with the lead worked for the Rangers. Ryan McDonagh toe-dragged his way past the Penguins, then banked a shot off of Kevin Hayes’ skate and into the net. McDonagh’s deke was yet another reminder of his offensive brilliance. 13 assists for McDonagh, 18 points in 19 games for Hayes. 4-2 Rangers.

-Pittsburgh pulled their netminder with 2:55 left, and the Rangers iced it with an empty-netter with an empty net goal by Derek Stepan. 5-2 Rangers win.

Final Thoughts:

-In a game the Rangers needed to win, New York failed spectacularly to show up at the beginning. The first period was the worst the Rangers played all year.

-That being said, the Rangers performances in the second and third periods were phenomenal. Can’t ask for a better response from the team against the defending champions.

-Ryan McDonagh is among the elite defensemen at keeping the puck in the zone. His keep-in led to the Rangers second goal.

-The first goal was unacceptable, but from there Antti Raanta had yet another phenomenal night. Raanta is a perfect backup for any team on a team friendly contract. The Rangers are lucky to have him.

-Especially strong nights by Michael Grabner, Kevin Hayes, Nick Holden, Ryan McDonagh, J.T Miller, and Rick Nash. It’s no coincidence that’s plenty of players in a Rangers win.

The Rangers will be back at it on Wednesday night, likely with a Henrik Lundqvist-Matt Murray matchup. Winning that one would be a major statement victory.

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