Rangers shut out for second straight game by Penguins
The Rangers are now fighting for their lives after being shut out for the second straight game.
Marc Andre-Fleury has stopped 57 straight shots after picking up a 2-0 victory in Game 3 Monday night. The Penguins lead the series, 2-1, with Game 4 to come Wednesday night.
“We [have to] score goals,” Marc Staal said when asked what needs to change in order for the Rangers to get back into the series. “We had a lot chances, just couldn’t put it by [Fleury]. You can’t win any games if you don’t score any goals.”
In an attempt to spark his team, head coach Alain Vigneault dressed J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast and Raphael Diaz in place of Dan Carcillo, Derek Dorsett and John Moore. He also briefly broke up his top line of Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis before reuniting them in the second period.
Vigneault’s personnel changes worked to a certain extent as the Rangers out-attempted the Penguins, 69-38. But the vast majority of the attempts were relatively harmless and Fleury did not have to fight through traffic.
“We put a lot of attempts on net — a lot of shots,” Staal said. “Certainly we could be in front of him more [and] get more second-chance opportunities. We didn’t have a lot of those tonight. It’s a matter of doing it.”
Sidney Crosby opened the scoring 2:34 into the second period with his first goal of the playoffs, and his first since Game 5 of the Ottawa series last year. The Penguins superstar collected a stretch pass from Robert Bortuzzo in the neutral zone, then outraced Marc Staal before whipping a shot which beat Henrik Lundqvist (13 saves).
The Rangers had an chance to tie the game six minutes after Crosby’s goal, when Mats Zuccarello’s shot eluded Fleury, but the right wing’s shot skittered along the goal line.
“Just a half-inch, inch, wide right now instead of in,” Staal said of the Rangers’ shots. “[St. Louis] hit a post. We have chances; we have to find a way to put them in.”
Jussi Jokinen increased the Pens’ lead to 2-0 on a breakaway goal at 15:20 of the second. Zuccarello attempted to pass the puck to Brad Richards at the blue line, but it was broken up and taken in for a one-on-one by Jokinen right out of the penalty box.
The Rangers are now scoreless on their last 33 power plays after five more fruitless efforts Monday.
“We had the puck a lot more in their zone and more possession,” Ryan McDonagh said of a power play which generated 10 shots on the man advantage. “We have to continue to put more pucks to the net.
“We should feel good because we had a lot of good looks. It’s just a matter of crashing the net and making it hard on him as much as we can.”
The Rangers wake up Tuesday with a day off after having played five games in seven days. Part of that is on the Rangers for having to go seven games against the Flyers in the division semifinals, and part is due to arena availability.
The NHL scheduled Games 6 and 7 of the Flyers series on back-to-back days, and Games 2 and 3 of this series back-to-back due to Garden availability. The Liberty has the building Thursday, and it’s booked for a Billy Joel concert Friday.
“We were forced to play a stupid schedule — five games in seven nights,” Vigneault said. “I’m real proud of how our guys handled it. They handled it real well.”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.