Madison Square Garden was a madhouse in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series between the Rangers and Penguins from the initial drop of the puck, to Derick Brassard’s goal 28 seconds into the affair, right through until Henrik Lundqvist deflected a last ditch Sidney Crosby shot Thursday night.
Despite a narrow advantage throughout, the Rangers played worthy of their No. 1 seed in their first 2015 postseason game, dumping Pittsburgh, 2-1.
It was a huge positive for the Blueshirts that they handled their scoring duties early, because Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury was a beast for the latter-half of Game 1. Fleury made 36 saves on the night as only Brassard and Ryan McDonagh were able to solve the Canadian netminder. McDonagh’s goal came on a power play late in the first period with Keith Yandle and Mats Zuccarello assisting. Rick Nash and Dan Girardi assisted on Brassard’s adrenaline-rush of a score.
The Penguins did make Rangers fans sweat right until the end, however, as Blake Comeau popped in a rebound with Maxim Lapierre clearing space in front of the net at the 6:15 mark of the second period.
Other than that, Henrik Lundqvist was clean, deflecting 24 Pittsburgh shots.
The Rangers outshot Pittsburgh, 38-25.
The Pens attempted to put pressure on the Rangers with time dwindling as they pulled Fleury with 1:17 left and again with 43 seconds left, but they were unable to get a clean look until Crosby fired one in Lundqvist’s direction with time expiring. The King made the save, and New York had itself a 1-0 series lead.
Game 2 of Rangers-Penguins will be a Saturday night primetime affair (8 p.m., NBC). The series shifts to Pittsburgh for Game 3 Monday (7 p.m., NBCSN).