It’s hard to determine who to credit for Tuesday’s Game 3 Penguins victory against the Rangers in New York.
Sure, rookie netminder Matt Murray was stellar and looked like he belonged on playoff ice despite being just 21-years old. But he only faced 17 Rangers shots (allowing just one from Rick Nash to squeak through).
And barely any of the 17 were good shots.
So where is the Rangers offense?
Defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned in Game 3’s 3-1 setback after missing the first two games of the series, and he can see there is a big problem for New York moving forward (if they can’t create more quality chances).
“We kept saying it, we kept telling ourselves, we had to lay it in and shoot it,” McDonagh said.“I’m sure we’ll look at some things when we watch the game and wish we had put more pucks on the net especially because it was his (Murray’s) first game in a while.”
The Penguins have yet to lose in three games at Madison Square Garden this seasonand if they move their Manhattan record to 4-0 the Rangers will have their backs against the wall with a possible decisive Game 5 in Pittsburgh this weekend.
In order to even things up at 2-apiece Thursday, a 7 p.m. start on MSG, the Rangers need to play their game offensively and not let Pittsburgh dictate play in the neutral zone (and thus limiting Rangers scoring opportunities).
“That’s the biggest thing we have to learn from tonight, more so than anything,” Derek Stepan said Tuesday, “we did a terrible job of getting through the neutral zone and that is exactly the reason why we didn’t get a single look the whole third period, because we did such a poor job of coming through the neutral zone.”
Sometimes it’s the simple things. And for New York, a return to masterful play through sound fundamentals could save their season. When the puck drops Thursday, it could be “now or never.”