Pens-Rangers Game Four: No Sweep for You
There are games in which a team beats itself, and there are games in which a team gets beat. Tonight, the Pittsburgh Penguins got beat.
The New York Rangers outplayed the Pens in every aspect of the game, and handed them their first loss of the postseason.
The first 10 minutes of the game can be described in three words: dump and chase. Neither team was taking any chances, nor was either team making any mistakes.
Getting through the neutral zone was harder than driving in Pittsburgh without running into construction.
Tyler Kennedy was finally able to get behind the Rangers' defense, but Lundqvist made the save, and New York went the other way.
Straka had a couple good chances in the slot, but couldn't get a good shot off.
As a side note: if Marty Straka scored on even half of the scoring chances he had, the Rangers would have won this series in four games, hands down. (Best trade in franchise history.)
Sidney Crosby played his only effective 20 minutes of the game in the first period. He tried centering the puck to Dupuis and Hossa 35 consecutive times, each of which was broken up by the Rangers' defensemen.
Malkin had a chance late in the period off of a steal by Ryan Malone, but was denied by Lundqvist and time expired with the scoreboard showing nothing but zeroes.
The Penguins had seven shots in the first period, and seven scoring chances. Rangers goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, looked good.
The second period couldn't have been any more opposite of the first. Things finally opened up.
The Rangers got some early chances, but Marty Straka choked again. Malkin broke loose on a breakaway, but decided to deke 32 times before shooting the puck, and Lundqvist made the save.
Brendan Shanahan made his first appearance of the series when he drew a holding penalty on Kris Letang. A Ranger power play was coming up, and everyone knew what that meant: another two minutes of scoreless hockey.
After the power play, VERSUS announcers Mike Emrick and Eddie Oljoke participated in one of the all-time worst conversations in the history of spoken communication.
"Edjoke" implied that having size at the winger position will ultimately lead you to a Stanley Cup. Emrick was too busy waiting to unleash another "aaaaoooohhhh" when someone dumped the puck in on net, so he just agreed with everything Edjoke said.
Eddie: that's why you are in the booth calling the game instead of on the bench coaching it. VERSUS has put together the worst broadcast teams in the history of sports.
Lost in the babbling nonsense of our commentators was the second period of a hockey game. Still scoreless past the half-way mark of the second, it was Jagr time.
Jagr swooped into the Pens' zone, unleashed a wicked wrist shot, and beat Fleury. 1-0 Rangers. The sad part was, Jaromir didn't even get to see the puck go in the net. He was leveled by Brooks Orpik who had him lined up coming across the middle of the ice.
While Jagr was coming to, VERSUS showed us that they truly have no idea what is going on. They talked about Brooks Orpik and repeatedly showed shots of Rob Scuderi on the Penguins' bench. Give me FSN over this garbage any day.
The Pens put out their uber-line of Malkin-Crosby-Hossa, but they couldn't get anything going against the stingy Rangers' defense.
Jagr was okay, and the game finally started to look like a playoff game again. Bodies were flying, so were players. The Pens took a penalty and the Rangers' sour play came out.
Ryan Malone got sprung on a short handed breakaway, but Lundqvist stood tall. Minutes later, Malkin took a lead pass and swooped into the zone, one-on-one with the goalie.
Malkin buried his head, was pushed from behind by Daniel Girardi, and crashed into Lundqvist, dislodging the net. The puck ended up in the cage, the play was reviewed, but the goal was disallowed. However, Geno was awarded a penalty shot.
Malkin took to center ice for the penalty shot. He has not performed well in the shootout throughout his short career, and all the non-Penguin followers got to see why tonight. Malkin's penalty shot was painful to watch; no goal.
The Rangers picked up a late power play at the end of the second period, but we'd have to wait until the third to see if they could end their dry spell with the man advantage.
Carbon dioxide levels in New York City suddenly spiked 44 seconds into the second period due to the collective exhale of Ranger fans who had been holding their collective breath, hoping for a power play goal. It came from Brandon Dubinsky, assisted by (who else) Jaromir Jagr. 2-0 Rangers.
The Rangers must have watched some game tape of themselves actually playing defense during the regular season, because they completely shutdown any and all Penguin efforts throughout the third period.
Everywhere you saw one white jersey in the offensive zone, three blue jerseys were just a stick-length away.
The Pens had some chances, however. Marian Hossa failed to lift the puck off the ice as he was gazing at an open cage.
Malone kept a puck alive in the offensive zone, got it to Sykora, whose shot grazed the crossbar and dropped right to the stick of Jordan Staal.
Staal remembered he was 19 years old playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and choked under pressure. He shot the puck wide of a gaping net.
Daniel Girardi put a clean hit on Marian Hossa in open ice, and that's when Sid and Geno lost their heads. Both guys came to the aid of their teammate, and ended up putting the Rangers on the power play, seemingly putting the game out of reach.
The Rangers' power play receded into its previous form, and the Pens were able to kill off the penalty.
The Pens would get one final chance to get something going when Scott Gomez got his stick up in the face of Brooks Orpik. The Pens dumped the puck in 97 times in a row on the ensuing power play, and each time the Rangers cleared it right back out.
How many times are you going to try the same play before you realize it isn't going to work? Gonchar finally got a good look at the net at the end of the power play, but Lundqvist wasn't having it.
The Pens pulled Fleury, and Jaromir Jagr capped off another impressive performance with an empty net goal.
After the goal Malkin and Mara got tangled up, and all 10 players on the ice got into a little scrum. Gonchar and Rozsival dropped the gloves, but it turned into a pathetic attempt at a fight.
Malkin and Mara received misconduct penalties, and the game was over. 3-0 Rangers. Pens lead the series 3-1.
VERSUS sucks, plain and simple. The worst part about it is, for some reason NBC feels that Doc and Edjoke are high quality commentators, so we will have to deal with them again on Sunday.
Bob Errey > Eddie Olczyk.
Gary Roberts was basically invisible on the ice tonight.
Jordan Staal is a beast on the PK, and he's only 19.
Tyler Kennedy had a solid game, he will score a big goal in the playoffs sometime before it's all said and done.
Dubinsky played a great game. He is going to be a great center in this league for a long time.
Lundqvist finally lived up to his Vezina-nominee billing.
Jagr can still take over a game, when the game isn't being played in Pittsburgh.
Game Five: Sunday 2:00 on NBC.
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