Kevin Hayes scored his first postseason goal last night, and boy was it a big one. The rookie parked himself in front of the net and got a loose puck over a prone Marc-Andre Fleury, giving the Rangers a 3-1 series lead. The Rangers absolutely stole this game, as their first period was so bad that all of Rangers Twitter was in shock. No one thought they could be that bad for a period, but they were, and they were lucky to come out of that only down a goal. They had zero scoring chances in the first. Zero.
That luck continued, as a few fortuitous bounces in front led to Derick Brassard’s tying goal, as the Rangers started to slowly play their game. The game itself was relatively low-event, meaning few shot attempts for both clubs. But you guys know playoff hockey, every single puck movement is cause for hearts skipping beats. I woke my neighbors when Hayes scored. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
On to the goals:
Pens 1, Rangers 0
This is what happens with a lot of traffic in front of the net. Patric Hornqvist was able to deflect the Ben Lovejoy shot from the point with a billion bodies in front. However, this started when Kevin Hayes put a 3-on-2 pass into Keith Yandle’s skates. That is a potential two-goal swing right off the bat.
Rangers 1, Pens 1
The Rangers had been playing pretty poorly up until this point, but they got one by sticking to Hockey 101. Ryan McDonagh gained the zone and took it deep, dropping the puck for Rick Nash in the corner. Nash threw the puck at the front of the net, where Derick Brassard was allowed to take a few whacks at it with Fleury in a prone position.
Rangers 2, Pens 1
Kevin Hayes parks himself in front during a mad scramble, and puts it over Fleury.
All things considered, there wasn’t much going on this game. The teams combined for less than 100 shot attempts combined through 3+ periods, with most of it coming in the third period. The Rangers really flatlined in the first, but got their collective acts together and then skated evenly with the Pens for the rest of the game.
This chart is kind of funny. The Rangers didn’t register a quality chance until the second period. That first 20 minutes was some of the worst hockey I’ve ever seen. This is the first time I’ve seen a chart that had zero scoring chances for an entire period.
Based on matchups, this is basically what you expect from the lineup on any given night.
I really don’t know how to read into this shot location chart. It’s nice to see the two G’s for the Rangers came from in front, showing they can do more than score off the rush. But that’s a lot of attempts by the Pens in dangerous areas.
Alain Vigneault didn’t have last change, but he did a good job trying to get Girardi/McDonagh out against Crosby. The Malkin line got Staal, which also isn’t surprising.
The series shifts back to New York for Game Five on Friday at 7pm. The Rangers have a chance to close it out, go for the kill.