You read that title correctly. The Rangers scored a pair of powerplay goals last night en route to a 5-1 victory over the Penguins in Game Five. Derick Brassard scored twice and added an assist in a very strong showing by the young center. Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves, some pretty solid, as he kept the Penguins from evening the score during their onslaught early in the second period. Chris Kreider and Ryan McDonagh also contributed with goals.
Aside from the powerplay, one of the bigger stories in this game was the play of Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury has had a reputation –well earned, mind you– of falling apart in the playoffs, and last night was the first time we saw him show that inconsistent play. He hasn’t really been spectacular in the series, but last night the first and fourth goals were shots that he should have stopped. He was also leaving lots of rebounds all night. It’s something we’ve been screaming for: Shoot the puck on Fleury.
On to the goals:
Rangers 1, Pens 0
After several long weeks, many sarcastic comments, and many things thrown at the TV, the Rangers finally scored on the powerplay. First came the face off win, then came the shot from the point by Brad Richards, which was deflected on the way in. Then came the diving play by Kreider to get the puck to the point to Ryan McDonagh and keep the play alive. Then came the first FLOLeury moment of the game, when he let Kreider score from the really bad angle. Kreider made this happen with the diving play, cutting to the net, and realizing that all you need to do is put the puck on net. Felt good to see a PPG.
Rangers 2, Pens 1
Benoit Pouliot forced Paul Martin into a defensive zone turnover, which caused the puck to go to Mats Zuccarello for a shot on net. Fleury left a big rebound, and Sidney Crosby didn’t cover his man (Brassard) in front, leading to an easy goal for Brass.
Pens 1, Rangers 2
This goal was a combination of a great individual effort by Evgeni Malkin and poor defense by Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. Malkin managed to split them both, with Staal coming over to “help” by taking neither the body nor the puck. Malkin’s first shot is stopped by Hank, but he got his own rebound and put it past the sprawling netminder.
Rangers 3, Pens 1
Just when you thought the Rangers were incapable of answering after a goal by the opposition, that third line strikes again. Zucc made a good power move to get by Matt Niskanen on the boards, and manages to draw Brandon Sutter to him as well. Zucc does the ole “reverse pass while skating behind the net” play, allowing Anton Stralman to skate into a shot from the face off dot. Fleury left another huge rebound, and Brassard was there for two attempts. The first was blocked by Sutter, the second roofed for the goal.
Rangers 4, Pens 1
The powerplay struck again, and it was another FLOLeury moment. This time around, a shot from the point by McDonagh beat Fleury clean over the shoulder. Pouliot was providing a distraction in front, but Fleury saw it the whole way.
Rangers 5, Pens 1
Kevin Klein empty netter. No breakdown needed.
Boy did the Penguins turn it on in the second period, but the Rangers weathered the storm and managed to extend their lead as well. Perhaps the most interesting item of note here is that the Rangers didn’t really back off when they took a three goal lead. They kept pushing and generating offense, which is a nice change of pace, and perhaps a sign of renewed legs and confidence as they kept pushing for more goals.
The series shifts back to New York for Game Six on Sunday at 7pm. Momentum doesn’t really carry from game to game, but the Rangers have some confidence now, knowing they can score on the powerplay and on Fleury.
One final note, our condolences go out to the St. Louis family, after hearing about the sudden passing of Marty’s mother."Brassard has three point night, powerplay scores two as Rangers keep season alive",