Sidney Crosby finally got off the skids and Marc-Andre Fleury was perfect for the second night in a row as the Pittsburgh Penguins regained home ice advantage with a 2-0 win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Despite outshooting the Penguins by more than a 2-1 margin (35-15) the Rangers couldn’t solve Fleury, whose scrambling stlye worked for his second straight shutout. It wasn’t pretty, but there are no style points for goaltending and what makes Fleury susceptible to off nights and bad goals worked in his favor in Game 3.
The Pittsburgh Penguins scored on a pair of opportunistic second period breakaways taking advantage of mental lapses for the only goals of the game. First Sindey Crosby was sprung by Robert Bortuzzo and he fired a snapshot through Henrik Lundqvist‘s legs for his first goal in 13 playoff games.
Later in the period, just after stepping out of the penalty box, Jussi Jokinen was sent in alone from the blue line by Mats Zuccarello. The problem is, as you know, Zuccarello plays for the Rangers, and the miscommunication at the Penguins blue line resulted in a very costly turnover. Jokinen faked backhand and brought it forehand and fired it glove side on Lundqvist.
The execution on the power play (or lack thereof) for the New York Rangers continues to haunt them. They went o for 5 with the man advantage, including a late first period double minor to James Neal that straddled the intermission so the Rangers could maximize their first PP unit’s time. It was ineffective and Chris Kunitz had the best chance on a shorthanded breakaway after Derick Brassard bobbled the puck at the Pittsburgh Penguins blue line.
The game ended a streak of 5 games in 7 nights for the Rangers, one that was downplayed by coach Alain Vigneault before the game but after he partially blamed that tough schedule for the loss. However, it appeared to be mental fatigue more than physical as the Zuccarello brain cramp to send Jokinen in alone was just one of a number of mental errors committed by the Blueshirts.
Game 4 goes Wednesday night in New York.