After an exciting win over Toronto the New York Rangers took on the Penguins at MSG on Monday night. The Rangers played the hot hand by starting Alexandar Georgiev, while Matt Murray got the start for Pittsburgh.
After a slow first half to the period Brendan Lemieux got the scoring started with 11:35 left. After Lemieux forced a turnover, Mika Zibanejad gained possession and led a three-on-two break. Mika slid it to Pavel Buchnevich on the left, who whipped a cross-ice pass to lemieux on the right. Lemieux gathered the puck and then elevated it to beat a sliding Murray. Four minutes left the Rangers threatened again when Lias Andersson found Fredrik Claesson on a fast break. Claesson got the puck in the slot and shot the puck on net but was denied by Murray. After Lemieux drew a penalty in front, Vinni Lettieri notched his first goal of the season with 4:45 to play when he rifled a one-timer past Murray via a Anthony DeAngelo cross-ice pass. The two goal lead was short lived however, as Nick Bjugstad found a juicy rebound and put it past Georgiev. Lettieri almost got his second goal when a loose puck found it’s way past Murray, but his diving effort was blocked as the Rangers went into intermission with a one goal lead.
After a Brady Skjei holding call, Sidney Crosby found Justin Schultz in the slot for a one-timer to level the game with one minute gone in the period. Then, with 12:43 to go, Matt Cullen took the lead for the penguins as he sniped the top corner from a very low percentage angle. The Rangers looked to tie the game back up in the second half of the period when they drew back-to-back power plays, but it was actually the Penguins who lit the lamp. After a failed two-on-one, Bryan Rust ended up behind the net and managed to pass the puck to Teddy Blueger who was waiting on the right side post and quickly finished with a backhand. Georgiev was late to the post because he had just slid to the left on the two-on-one. Oddly enough, a Brett Howden tripping call gave the Penguins a power play with five minutes left but it was again the shorthanded team who threatened. The Rangers weren’t able to finish these chances though and went into the locker room down two.
In the third period things continued to deteriorate for the Rangers. With 12:22 left Blueger scored his second goal on the night after Georgiev dropped an easy glove save in the crease and Bluegers skate carried the puck in. The Rangers challenged the ruling for offsides, but the goal was upheld. This killed the momentum of the game and neither team got many chances after this. The Rangers had a few chances, but they never struck and the score didn’t change as the game ended five to two.
The Rangers skated well in the first period but everything went wrong after that as they gave up five unanswered goals. This win helps Pittsburgh move closer to clinching a playoff spot, while it helps the Rangers in their tank. The Blueshirts are next in action Wednesday night as they travel to Boston.