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Penguins vs. Rangers: Game 4 Score and Twitter Reaction from 2016 NHL Playoffs

Joe Pantorno@@JoePantornoFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2016

New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash, right, looks up at the replay after a goal scored by Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) during the second period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, Thursday, April 21, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

For a team that was trailing 2-1 in its first-round playoff matchup, the New York Rangers were flat on Thursday, as they were outworked, out-skated and outplayed by the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 5-0 Game 4 loss at Madison Square Garden.

After their dominant performance, led by Evgeni Malkin's two power-play goals and two assists, the Penguins are headed back to Consol Energy Center with a commanding 3-1 series lead.

The Rangers might have been looking for physical retribution instead of trying to even the series at the game's start. Following Kris Letang's non-penalized slash on Viktor Stalberg in Game 3, the Rangers went right after the Penguins to establish a physical presence.

It didn't bother Pittsburgh much, though, as Eric Fehr put the visitors ahead just one minute and nine seconds into the game when he drove to the net and sent home a big rebound off Henrik Lundqvist: 

NHL @NHL

Crashing and banging their way to a perfect start, the @penguins are rolling. #PITvsNYR #StanleyCup https://t.co/IGQgoBI2UK

The rebound was "big" and "meaty," according to 96.1 Kiss' Mike Dougherty:

Mikey @fsmikey

Here’s the gif of Eric Fehr eating up that big, meaty Lundqvist rebound https://t.co/KkeBaqbHHh

An interference penalty on Rick Nash gave Pittsburgh an opportunity to double its lead on the power play. 

Less than 30 seconds into the man advantage, Patric Hornqvist, who recorded a hat trick in Game 1, scored to put Pittsburgh up 2-0 with 12:49 left in the first.

Sidney Crosby deflected a shot from the point by Malkin off Hornqvist, who was standing in front of Lundqvist:

NHL @NHL

Alllllllll @penguins early. #PITvsNYR #StanleyCup https://t.co/ofmpOpq2HG

It was a flying start, which impressed ESPN's John Buccigross:

Bucci Mane @Buccigross

Good Lord, the Penguins have jump tonight. #wheelin

Things got even better for Pittsburgh when Conor Sheary picked off a Kevin Klein pass in the Rangers' zone and turned on the jets to create a breakaway goal with 3:48 to play in the period: 

NHL @NHL

Shear(y) brilliance with the snipe. The @penguins came out firing. #StanleyCup https://t.co/5nFc6BQ85i

CBS Pittsburgh's Colin Dunlap was enjoying the rise of the Penguins rookie, who played in 44 games in the regular season:

Colin Dunlap @colin_dunlap

Conor Sheary is fast becoming a damn legend in Pensburgh.

The Rangers couldn't generate anything against a hungrier-looking Penguins team, much to the disapproval of YES Network's Chris Shearn:

ChrisShearn @ChrisShearnYES

#Rangers effort in Game 4 so far https://t.co/p2tvWk6P8y

If there was one positive from the first period for the Rangers, it was that they threw 11 shots at rookie Matt Murray's net after recording just 17 shots in all of Game 3.

New York finished the night with 31 shots on goal, but Murray was up to the task on all of them. In his two games in the series, he's stopped 47 of 48 shots.

Undisciplined play made the Rangers' deficit even larger in the second period after a Dominic Moore tripping penalty put the Penguins up a man. Pittsburgh made it 2-for-2 on the power play when Malkin sent a screaming slap shot past Lundqvist four minutes into the period.

NHL on NBC showed Malkin's first goal since returning from a 16-game absence (shoulder injury):

NHL on NBC @NHLonNBCSports

Malkin fires one home! #StanleyCup https://t.co/VM6MoKAHnx

That was all for Lundqvist, who was pulled for Antti Raanta two minutes later.

Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman caught a glimpse of Lundqvist on the bench:

Elliotte Friedman @FriedgeHNIC

Raanta in for NYR. Lundqvist "if looks could kill" on the bench

The Penguins' Twitter account was ruthless toward the King after his departure:

Pittsburgh Penguins @penguins

@stevehoffmann39 We didn't like him anyway. https://t.co/czE2pGPqoy

The young replacement didn't get much help, as Tanner Glass was called for a double-minor high-sticking penalty 10 seconds into his arrival. But the Penguins could muster only three shots on the four-minute power play.

They made up for the rare special teams sputter in the third period after a J.T. Miller slashing penalty gave them another power-play opportunity.

Malkin again reaped the rewards of an extra attacker when he banged home a pass sent to the front of Raanta's net 3:28 into the period.

Vice Canada's Davril Lavignezo likened the big Russian forward to a fictional Russian boxer:

DL @davelozo

Live look at Evgeni Malkin from MSG https://t.co/L51hKpTPXR

While a 3-1 lead is commanding, it isn't necessarily safe against the Rangers. In each of the past two postseasons, New York has turned around 3-1 deficits and gone on to win the series. In 2015, it was against the Washington Capitals. In 2014, it was against these Penguins.

That is something Pittsburgh might have in the back of its mind heading into Saturday's Game 5.

Postgame Reaction

He might be new to the league, but Murray was a seasoned vet when it came to addressing the media after his first career playoff shutout, via Lavignezo:

DL @davelozo

Matt Murray is a rookie but his boring quote game is elite, like that of a much older goaltender. https://t.co/dNEoli4rwa

On the offensive side of the ice, Malkin made it clear that he's feeling just fine after injury troubles kept him out of Game 1, via Pens Inside Scoop:

Pens Inside Scoop @PensInsideScoop

#Pens Malkin: I feel so much better. I'm playing better, more confidence. Our line played well. We can play better every game -SK

Upon his return, some questioned if his presence would mess up Pittsburgh's team chemistry. It obviously didn't on Thursday night, as Fehr spoke to the media following the game, via Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Seth Rorabaugh @SethRorabaugh

Eric Fehr joked about some suggestions by media that working Evgeni Malkin back into the lineup would be an issue: https://t.co/3eh1KAykC0

This Game 4 performance was as complete a game as the Penguins could have played against a Rangers team that's made the Eastern Conference Final in each of the past two seasons. A beatdown like this should have Pittsburgh's confidence sky-high heading into Saturday.

Expect that confidence to be portrayed on the ice as the team tries to finish off New York at home.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault obviously wasn't happy with his team's performance, via Newsday's Steve Zipay: "It’s definitely uncharacteristic of this group to come up with this type of performance ... We picked a very bad night to have a very bad game."

Lundqvist wasn't shying away from his role in the bad night either, via Zipay:

Steve Zipay @stevezipay

Lundqvist: “Obviously it’s my job to be there when we have breakdowns and I was not good enough today.”

At the end of the day, the Penguins still have a young, fairly inexperienced goaltender between the pipes no matter how well he's played over his first two starts.

With their physicality, the Rangers have to get a forecheck going, get bodies in front of the net and simply throw everything at the young goalie. All that's needed is one bad bounce, one bad deflection to rattle Murray's confidence, which could begin to turn the tide in the series.

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